Clegs in Elizabeth Street is closing down with Woolworths to take over the site. Photo: Supplied
Veteran Melbourne fabric store Clegs will close its doors after 90 years of city trading and its Elizabeth Street shop will be taken over by Woolworth's as the retail giant pursues its relentless "convenience store" battle with arch-rival Coles.
The high-quality fabric retailer, founded by Cleg Jones in 1925, will shut up shop in the CBD with a closing down sale after several years of poor business, owner Ken Maxwell said.
Another Clegs outlet at 396 Lygon Street will stay open.
"The city's changed so much. We're not getting the volume of people buying from us, rents are going up, wages are going up," he said.
Mr Maxwell, 77, began his working life at Clegs aged 14 before buying the business and running it for more than 45 years.
Clegs traded from several city locations during it's long-running tenure, first opening in Swanston Street before settling at Elizabeth between Collins and Flinders Lane.
A liquor licensing sign on the store's window lists Woolworths as the licensee. Another banner lists CBRE's Zelman Ainsworth as leasing agent although he would not comment.
Woolworths has been quietly expanding its city footprint, opening small-format stores modelled on an outlet in Crown Street, Woolloomooloo, in Sydney, the original template for the "Woolworths Small Format" branded corner-store push.
So far it has opened stores at 260 Flinders, 157 Swanston and 600 Bourke streets.
The scaled-down outlets from Coles, Woolies and other smaller retailers like EzyMart have been prompted by a wave of new apartment and office-block conversions, which have brought more people to live in the central city.
EzyMart opened five Melbourne CBD stores last year.
Woolies' Elizabeth Street shop will compete with a similar-sized Coles store less than half a block away on the same street.
Coles has opened at 211 Latrobe Street and has a larger-format store in Spencer Street.
Clegs is not the only old-style fabric business to recently leave the city.
Haberdashery retailer Lincraft was forced out of its Australia on Collins shop by a luxury revamp of the centre but will return to the city after a 10-month hiatus, having signed a 10-year sublease in the basement of the Pavilion Retail Centre at 360 Bourke Street.
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