ONE of Malvern’s oldest shops is closing its doors after more than 100 years of continuous trading.

Department store Brays, in Worcester Road, is set to close early in the new year, as its owner and its managing director are both retiring. The 15 staff members have been informed of the move.

Owner Christopher Davis said: “After working in business for more than 60 years and approaching the age of 80, the time has come for me to retire. My colleague Stuart Stone, who has made an enormous contribution to the firm for 43 years, latterly as managing director, is also approaching retirement. We have therefore made the very difficult decision to run down the business with a view to closing early next year.”

The shop has now launched a sale to start clearing out its stock.

Malvern mayor, councillor Neil Morgan, said: “It’s really sad to hear that this is happening, and I feel sorry for the staff who are faced with losing their job. Brays is one of the businesses that defines Malvern as it’s so visible when you drive along Worcester Road through the town centre. I’m afraid this is another example of the pressure that High Street businesses are facing with competition from the internet.”

Brays originally opened in 1895 and has been a staple in the town ever since.

Mr Stone said that no decision had been taken about the future of the building, which fronts the section of Worcester Road known as The Promenade. As well as Brays, the building houses several independent shops, and a number of apartments on the upper floors.

Mr Stoner said that one option would be to put the building up for sale as it is, complete with the tenancies.

“A potential buyer might want to apply for planning permission to subdivide what is now Brays into smaller units, but that is up to them,” said Mr Stone.

Phil Merrick, head of economy and environment at Malvern Hills District Council, said: “We are saddened to hear of the closure of Brays in Great Malvern and especially the impact this will have on the affected staff. In the current national climate, we know retail and town centres are changing dramatically and Great Malvern is not immune to these changes. We will work together with the owners of the building to ensure that future plans for the site will support a changing but healthy and vibrant town centre.”