Equestrian store first opened in Wigan 150 years ago closes last branch

An equestrian store which first opened in Wigan more than 150 years ago closed its last branch today.

Friday, 8th January 2021, 6:01 pm
Updated Friday, 8th January 2021, 6:08 pm
Robinsons in Ashton has closed. Pic: Google Street View

Robinsons, on Warrington Road in Ashton, has ceased trading, but it is understood that the company will continue operating as an online retailer.

Plans to turn the two-storey retail store into an MOT and servicing garage, a warehouse and a third unit for commercial, business and other service uses have been submitted to Wigan Council, with a decision due in February.

A member of staff, who has worked at the Ashton megastore for many years but did not want to be named, said this was a "sad day" for the store.

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She said: “It’s a sad time. But there’s nothing we can do. We’ve got to move on.

“We’ve been here on this site for 40 years.

“The customers we’ve had here have been with this company longer than I have. There’s that many customers that have been here for 50 years now.

“There’s a lot of history.”

The company’s history started in 1867, when James Robinson opened a small saddlery next to Wigan North Western railway station on Wallgate.

By the 1960s, Robinsons was owned by Jim Robinson, the grandson of the man who had founded the company, and the saddlery had moved next door to a small building overlooking the car park at Wigan North Western.

In 1970, when "Old Jimmy" retired, the company was sold to Jim Bentham, a local riding instructor whose livelihood had been threatened by a broken leg.

In 1982, the company moved to its current store’s site in Ashton.

In September 2002, a fire broke out in the store and completely destroyed it.

A new 20,000 square-foot store and café opened on the site in 2003 with 2,500 people attending on the opening day – one of its busiest days ever.

The company is now owned by Sports Direct and after its Ashton megastore closes, the only remaining site will be at the head office in Nottinghamshire.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands there are 11 employees at the store with four due to retire, but the others could face redundancy soon.

Documents on Wigan Council’s website reveal that Formula 1 Autocentres is the current client expected to occupy the MOT and serving garage unit.

Planners at the town hall are due to decide the outcome of the planning application by February 19, unless it is called in for a committee decision.

Sports Direct has been contacted for comment.

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