AN ICONIC Taunton store, once known as the "Harrods of the West Country" has announced it is proposing to close in January 2017.

Independent retailer The County Stores, has been trading in Taunton since the mid-1850s.

The 61 staff were told at a meeting in the store today, and in the next month a collective consultation process will take place before a final decision is made.

It is expected that the store will close in January 2017, with the post office remaining there until later in the year.

James Duder, County Stores director, said, “Over the past few years the high street retail environment has become very challenging, with lots of retailers struggling in the current retail climate.

"The situation has been no different at The County Stores and in recent months it has become apparent that despite all our efforts, The County Stores cannot continue to trade with its current structure and size.

“Today, it is with great regret, that the company is announcing a proposal to close its Taunton Store, with the potential redundancy of all those who work here.

"It is proposed that the closure will take place in January 2017, although it is anticipated that the Post Office will continue to trade until June 2017.”

The family run business, now in its fifth generation, also thanked its entire staff for their continued support, loyalty and contribution to the business.

The two petrol stations owned by the company at Curry Rivel and Williton are not affected.

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