AS with any town or city, Colchester has seen a large number of businesses come and go over the years.

Once upon a time, these outlets were an exciting addition to the area, only to later shut and be replaced in an ongoing cycle.

In fact, the latest additions to Colchester are coming from top brands as they want to join a “vibrant and growing city centre”, according to council bosses.

In March 2023, The Craft Spot, which had been in St Botolph’s for almost four decades, closed after struggling to bounce back from successive Covid-19 lockdowns.

Owner Sharon Marshall, 58, said at the time that it was a hard decision to close the store, which she had owned for nine years.

Mrs Marshall said: “I’ve been working in this business since 1980 - it used to be the print shop in Crouch Street.

“Before Covid, it was great – we were getting on really well and it was really enjoyable, but we were a non-essential business [when Covid hit] so we were open then shut.

“We noticed a very slow return because a lot of people were quite cautious [coming out of lockdown] – it’s been a couple of years now but it’s never got back to the pre-Covid levels."

Gazette: Closed - Jacks shut its doors back in 2012Closed - Jacks shut its doors back in 2012 (Image: N/a)Jacks, a popular equipment retailer formed in 1946, closed its doors in 2012 after falling into administration.

The business, which had been based in St Nicholas Street, specialised in camping equipment and work clothing.

Prior to shutting its doors, Jacks had been trading at a loss due to increased competition and costs of operating in the High Street.

Gazette: Crowd - Shoppers queue to get into Woolworths as its closing down sale in Colchester beginCrowd - Shoppers queue to get into Woolworths as its closing down sale in Colchester begin (Image: Newsquest)

Retail brand Woolworths had maintained a presence in Colchester, in one way or another, beginning in 1914.

Despite a fire in 1973, it was economic troubles that saw the store initially close in 1985, with the loss of 70 jobs.

Popular demand saw Woolworths revived in Colchester in 1998, staying for the following decade until the company went into administration with £300million of debt.

Gazette: Missed - Marks and Spencer in ColchesterMissed - Marks and Spencer in Colchester (Image: Daniel Rees/Newsquest)Meanwhile, the long-standing Marks and Spencer store in Colchester High Street closed its doors in 2022, after nearly 100 years having opened in 1931.

This decision was part of expansion plans that saw a bigger store open at Stane Retail Park in Stanway.

Distraught customers had fought for the store to retain its High Street space, but the campaign was unsuccessful.

Gazette: Restaurant - Jacklins was in the High Street for roughly eight decadesRestaurant - Jacklins was in the High Street for roughly eight decades (Image: N/a)

High Street restaurant,  tobacconist and sweet shop Jacklins stood in the High Street for about 80 years.

After a tenured history, the restaurant closed its doors for the last time in 1997.

Willie Gees, which is now Fenwick, snapped up Jacklins in an expansion plan in the 1990s.

Gazette: Staple - Debenhams closed its doors during CovidStaple - Debenhams closed its doors during Covid (Image: N/a)Colchester's Debenhams store, which was situated in Culver Street West, shut its doors permanently during the Covid pandemic.

During Debenhams' time in Colchester, the store had been one of the largest in the city centre, as well as one of the biggest in the High Street.

Online fashion retailer Boohoo bought the Debenhams brand for £55million.