A POPULAR Colchester centre toy shop is to close after 15 years.

The Early Learning Centre, in Culver Square, will shut on March 26, leaving 10 long-serving staff redundant.

Culver Square shopping centre manager David Robertson described the closure as “upsetting”.

He added: “For us, it is very disappointing the Early Learning Centre is leaving.

“This will be a great loss. We have got a good working relationship with the manager of the store and it is very upsetting.

“In terms of anyone new coming in, at the moment, not that I know of.”

However, Mr Robertson said there had been “positive interest”

in two units owned by Culver Square that have been empty for more than a year.

One is in Sir Isaac’s Walk and the other in Culver Square, next to Goldsmiths jewellery store.

He added: “The number of people looking for units has gone up as well.”

It is thought the closure had been on the cards since Mothercare, which also owns the Early Learning Centre, announced in April 2012 it would cut back and focus on 200 profitable stores.

It said at the time 75 Early Learning Centre stores would close, but would not confirm which ones.

Store manager Janet Leech said she was not allowed to discuss details of the closure, but said staff would be holding a “farewell event” at the store this Saturday.

She added: “It is our way of saying thank you to the parents and children who are our customers and the staff who have worked here.”

Mrs Leech said some customers came in each weekend to play games and tryarts and crafts.

A Mothercare spokesman said: “While we deeply regret the closure, it is part of a larger transformation plan to close a small number of unprofitable stores while investing in cuttingedge online and mobile shopping channels, as well as refurbishing some arger stores.”