TJ Hughes has been ordered to close by Durham County Council, or risk further legal action.
The department store, located in the Prince Bishop’s shopping centre, had remained open during the latest lockdown. Lockdown legislation means that non-essential shops, including, electrical and homeware stores cannot open other than for click-and-collect.
The company’s Middlesbrough branch has already been handed a £17,000 fine for continuing to operate during lockdown. TJ Hughes is contesting the fine.
Middlesborough Council issued a sharp rebuke of businesses trying to find effective loopholes in the lockdown legislation by stocking small quantities of food, whilst continuing to sell a wide range of other non-essential products.
TJ Hughes argued that, since it sells food, alcohol and gardening supplies it was an essential retailer and could therefore stay open during the November lockdown.
The chain’s Chief Operating Officer, Jason Harmer, said that the company would be contesting any orders to close. “It is wholly nonsensical that TJ Hughes stores be asked to close when other similar mixed retail stores remain open nationwide” said Harmer.
The company operates just under 20 stores most of which are in northern England and Scotland.
Image: Amana Moore