Peterborough's baby goods retailer Kiddicare is to be axed after more than 40 years trading
The baby and child equipment retailer Kiddicare founded in Peterborough 44 years ago is to be axed.
Current owner, home furnishings giant Dunelm, has confirmed that the last remaining Kiddicare store at the PE1 garden park, in Peterborough, and the Kiddicare.com website will be axed early next year.
The company says 26 jobs will go following the store closure.
It is the end of the line for the once flourishing Kiddicare brand that was set up by Peterborough entrepreneurs Neville Wright and Marilyn Wright in 1974.
The couple built up the brand from a bedroom business at their home in Bourges Boulevard to a Â£40 million pound turnover empire employing about 200 people.
But Kiddicare seemed to go into decline after the couple sold the brand in 2011 for Â£70 million to supermarket chain Morrisons.
Morrisons struggled to make the brand fit and sold it on for just Â£2 million to private equity firm Endless.
It was eventually acquired by Dunelm, which has been cutting back the business ever since.
It closed the call centre and warehouse at Cygnet Park, Hampton, with the loss of 176 jobs in 2017 and moved the store to PE1. Its iconic premises in Cygnet Park were sold to European Tyre Enterprise for Â£10 million.
At the time a Dunelm spokeswoman said: "We currently do not have any plans to close the Kiddicare store."
But today, after the firm announced 4.6pc sales slump across its stores, a Dunelm spokesman said: "Having had 18 months since bringing the Kiddicare brand into the business, we are now confident that the most effective and simplest route forwards is to operate this category under the Dunelm brand.
"As a result, we will be ceasing to trade Kiddicare as a standalone brand and website in the coming weeks and months.
"We look forward to continuing to develop our offering to customers in this category.
He said: "We acquired Kiddicare as part of our acquisition of the Worldstores business in December 2016.
"Since this time, we have made good progress in developing our approach to our baby and kids category, including the expansion of its in-store presence, building our own label ranges and growing Dunelm.com sales.
"We remain very excited about the opportunity in this category."
In an interview with the Peterborough Telegraph just last year, Mr Wright said he was saddened at the decline of Kiddicare and felt with the right management it could become a Â£200 million a year turnover business.