200-year-old Devon family firm becomes latest casualty of coronavirus pandemic

A family-run shoe shop in Devon has become the latest business to close because of the coronavirus pandemic, in its 200th year of trading.

Ridgways Shoes in Newton Abbot has confirmed it will shut its doors for the last time after a closing down sale - a decision boss Matt Ridgway said was "heartbreaking".

The Devon store is not the first business in the West Country to collapse from the financial impact of the pandemic and Mr Ridgway said it wont be the last.

Described by locals as a "landmark" in the town, the store was considered too big to qualify for a grant from the Government.

It's incredibly sad. I'm incredibly sad for all the staff. It's not their fault, they've worked hard, they've done nothing wrong, but it's impossible to continue. It means that 17 people who worked here are going to be unemployed and they now have to claim benefits. That's really difficult for them, and I feel ever so sorry for them.

Matt Ridgway

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The firm was due to celebrate its 200th anniversary this year.

At the start of the Second World War the family started making boots for the army, before deciding to sell shoes in the post-war era.

Fast forward to 2009 and the family opened a second store at Cathedral Yard in Exeter. After a fire at the neighbouring Royal Clarence Hotel in 2016, a loss of footfall due to repair work in the area meant they had to make the difficult decision to cut their losses and close.

It will close its doors for the final time after a clearance sale. Credit: ITV West Country

The store in Newton Abbot has faced its challenges, too, but none as big as Covid-19 and its disastrous financial implications.

17 people will be unemployed when the doors close for the last time, including Mr Ridgway.

He said, "Our phones haven't stopped ringing since this has become public. The customers are so sad, but it's just the way the world is at the moment."