Clintons card shop to close more stores this month including in Greater Manchester
Another one to disappear from the highstreet
Clintons card shop is expected to shut down more of its stores this month after a string of closures last year — the second card brand casualty in Greater Manchester to fall victim to pressures of rising costs.
Bolton’s Market Street store is scheduled to close in March, though the exact date is unclear at this time. The card retailer will also be shutting its Whitehaven branch on March 19th — Mother’s Day — followed by its Cumbria unit, for good.
The future of the staff members based at the closing branches is uncertain as Clintons is yet to confirm the dates and whether it plans to shut any more of its shops in 2023. The greetings card chain permanently closed three of its shops last year including Market Harborough in January, Ayr on April 12th and Dorchester on December 29th.
The household brand was founded in 1968 but has struggled in recent years due in part to high business rates and a change in people’s shopping habits with people moving online as they can find cheaper bargains and for convenience.
The card retailer has also struggled to compete with rivals on the high street and online. Card Factory is its biggest high street rival, as well as online players Moonpig and Funky Pigeon. Speculation about the future of the chain arose in 2019 when it announced it urgently needed to close 66 of its stores to avoid collapse.
The firm resolved its woes by entering a ‘pre-pack administration’ back in December 2019, as its brand and its assets — its shops, staff and website — were sold to a new company called Esquire Retail Limited. But the move still involved hundreds of job losses and store closures.
At its peak before administration, the retailer had 2,500 staff working across 335 shops, but by January 2022, only 2,000 employees remained and 238 shops were operating. By the end of March 2023, the chain is expected to operate 233 stores.
But Clintons isn’t the only high street retailer struggling to keep a presence on the high street. Many retailers have been feeling the pinch since the pandemic and now the soaring costs of inflation as shoppers have had to cut back on their spending.
Nearly 15,000 jobs have been axed since the start of the year as dozens of retailers collapsed or were restructured.
Paperchase closed its flagship Manchester store as it fell into administration in 2021. However, it re-opened at a smaller unit taking over the old Thornton’s chocolatier space, within the Arndale Shopping Centre — so shoppers can still buy its fancy cards and gift wrap.
Boots in Salford Shopping Centre closed in February, Homesense in the Arndale has closed and Marks and Spencer on Deansgate in Bolton has shut up shop too. Argos has closed a number its its larger stand alone stores and hopes to open desks within Sainsbury’s, after it agreed on a deal with the supermarket chain.
Police appeal for witnesses after woman killed in Greater Manchester crash
The incident has left many in shock in the Bromley Cross area
Police have made an appeal for witnesses after a woman was killed in a major crash in Greater Manchester.
The three-car smash happened in Bromley Cross, Bolton on Thursday March 30th just before 11.50am.
Greater Manchester Police officers are now asking to speak to anyone who witnessed the accident on Darwen Road which left one woman dead and a man and a woman hospitalised with serious injuries.
The force are appealing for any dashcam, CCTV and doorbell footage to be submitted.
Sergeant Phillip Collingwood of GMP’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit said: “This was an extremely tragic incident in which someone has lost their life and two others have sustained serious injuries.
“Our thoughts remain with the families affected who are being supported by specialist officers.
“No arrests have been made and enquiries are ongoing. If you can help, then please contact our Serious Collision Investigation Unit on 0161 856 4741, quoting incident 1304 of 30/03/2023.”
As reported in The Bolton News, since the crash, tributes have been paid to the woman who tragically lost her life yesterday afternoon.
The incident saw Darwen Road shut for hours while police, paramedics and ambulance helicopters were in attendance at the scene.
Two cars were seen heavily damaged following the crash as Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service worked swiftly to cut people out of the vehicles.
The incident has left many in shock in the Bromley Cross area.
Information can also be reported online at www.gmp.police.uk. Alternatively, details can be passed via 101 or anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Paul O’Grady’s husband shares last photo they took together
‘Unbeknownst to us back in January this would be our last ever holiday together’
Paul O’Grady’s husband Andre Portasio has spoken out and shared the last photo the couple took together.
Producer Portasio confirmed the death of his partner O’Grady earlier this week. The national treasure died ‘unexpectedly but peacefully’ on Tuesday evening aged 67. Portasio has shared a photograph of the two of them enjoying a holiday together as he revealed it was the last ever picture they shared together.
He thanked well-wishers and said he’s been ‘touched’ by all their support. In a post shared to his Instagram page on Thursday, Portasio wrote: “In time I hope to write to everyone individually and thank you for all posts, messages, phone calls, emails, cards and flowers of support.
“I much appreciate you all taking the time to reach out. I’m so very touched and I’m sure Paul would be too! Browsing for a picture I found the last picture we ever took together. “Unbeknownst to us back in January this would be our last ever holiday together.”
Alongside the caption he posted a picture of the pair sat on a boat together smiling in the sunshine. The couple married in 2017.
Addressing his husband’s death earlier this week, Portasio said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening.
“We ask, at this difficult time, that whilst you celebrate his life you also respect our privacy as we come to terms with this loss.”
Hours earlier, O’Grady’s close friend Linda Thorson revealed the star died in his own bed with his husband by his side.
ITV has confirmed they will go ahead, as originally planned, and air O’Grady’s new series of For The Love of Dogs next month. The 11th series of the popular show was filmed late last year at the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and will begin on Thursday 13th April at 8:30pm on ITV1.
Man who discovered James Bulger’s body dies in custody
He discovered the toddler’s body when he was just 14-years-old
The man who discovered the body of James Bulger has died in police custody.
James Riley, 44, discovered the toddler’s lifeless body when he was a teenager. He was with his brother Terrence Riley on a railway line in Liverpool in 1993 when they came across the horrific discovery —he was just 14 at the time, The Liverpool Echo reports.
Mr Riley was taken into custody at St Anne Street Police Station in Liverpool at around 9.45pm on March 14th 2023. He stayed the night in a cell but at around 5pm the next day, police staff found him lying on the floor needing medical attention.
They called for an emergency ambulance but when at the hospital, Mr Riley was confirmed dead. Mr Riley had a string of over 40 convictions for a range of offences.
His family say this was a result of trauma caused by his discovery of James’ body. Two-year-old James was abducted by two 10-year-old boys, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who tortured and murdered him in a crime that shook the UK.
In February 1993, grainy CCTV images showed James being led out of Bootle’s Strand Shopping Centre by the schoolboys. They led him to the disused Walton & Anfield railway station, near Walton Lane police station, where they committed the horrific act.
In May 2017, James Riley was sentenced to two years and four months behind bars after admitting a spate of commercial burglaries.
Sarah Holt, defending him in that case, said: “He has been a drug addict for a considerable period of time – all his adult life and in fact, most of his adolescence.
“His problems can be traced back to when he was 14, when he experienced a very traumatic event. It was an event I suggest that meant he is suffering from PTSD, though not diagnosed. He never sought counselling, he tells me.
“That led him at 14 to try crack cocaine and his problems really spiralled from thereon in.”
In 2021 Mr Riley was found dumped in a street wearing just his underwear and holding a knife after a gang sought money for a debt he owed.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court previously heard that what he encountered in 1993 left a lasting impact on his life. The court heard how Riley suffered with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of finding James’ body.
The Independent Office for Police Custody (IOPC) is now investigating Riley’s death. IOPC Regional Director Catherine Bates said: “This was a tragic incident in which a man has sadly died and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.
“Merseyside Police referred this matter to us, and as he was in the custody of police at the time he became unwell, it is important there is a thorough and independent investigation.
“We will examine all relevant matters including the interaction officers had with the man on the street, and what happened after he arrived at the custody suite. We have made contact with his family to explain our role and will update them as our enquiries progress.”
Merseyside Police said previously officers are fully cooperating with the IOPC. A spokesperson for the force said: “We are aware that the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the death of a 44-year-old man in police custody in Liverpool on Wednesday, March 15th.
“The force’s Professional Standards Department mandatorily referred the matter to the IOPC following the sad news that the man had passed away and we are fully cooperating with their investigation team. His next of kin have been informed and Merseyside Police would like to offer its condolences to the family for their loss.”