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'Showbiz shop' Dress Circle confirms it will close on 15 Aug

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West End theatre shop Dress Circle has announced it will close in two weeks’ time, despite a long-running campaign to save it.

The store, "the longest-running showbusiness and musical theatre shop in the world", is located on Monmouth Street in Covent Garden and first opened in the late 1970s. It has been a haven for theatre fanatics ever since, selling a wide selection of cast recordings, sheet music, and memorabilia.

A statement on the Dress Circle website reads: "It is with regret that we announce that on 15 August 2012 the Dress Circle shop in Covent Garden, London will be closing its doors for the very last time.

"Over the past months we have tried in vain to negotiate with our landlord to move our shop into smaller and more cost effective premises. The cost of keeping Dress Circle open in the current location is too high, and it has become apparent that we will not be able to dispose of our current lease. The downturn in the economy has also taken its toll on us, as well as the ever changing way that people are buying music."

The campaign to save the shop included a sell-out fundraising gala at Her Majesty’s Theatre last August, hosted by singer Aled Jones and featuring a raft of West End talent.

Speaking to Whatsonstage.com, Murray Allan, who has owned Dress Circle for 17 years, said: "Artistically the gala was a huge success - people are still talking about it - but financially it just wasn't enough to save us, unfortunately."

Allan cited the Olympics as a factor in the recent downturn of sales. "I've spoken to four or five retailers in the West End and we're all experiencing the same thing, it's just empty at the moment," he said. "The campaign to keep people out of central London during the Games has had a very negative impact."

Tribute messages to the shop have been pouring in on Twitter. Actresses Dianne Pilkington and Tamzin Outhwaite called it a "sad day", while composer Dougal Irvine, who took part in last year's gala, tweeted commiserations with the hashtag #signofthetimes.

Dress Circle will continue to trade online and has announced plans to upgrade and expand the website in the near future.


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