AFTER almost 50 years, Bolton’s Oxfam charity shop is closing its doors.

The struggling shop in Blackburn Road, Astley Bridge, has succumbed to declining profits, and is ‘no longer viable’ said a manager for the charity.

Alan Lancelott Redfern, Oxfam area manager for the Astley Bridge Oxfam shop, said: “We truly regret that the shop on Blackburn Road is closing; after nearly 50 years of trading in the town, this marks the end of an era.”

The closure decision was made on the basis of ‘profitability’, he said.

Mr Lancelott Redfern added: “Oxfam constantly evaluates the profitability of all our shops to ensure we making the most money possible for our vital work helping people escape poverty and survive disasters around the world.

“Sometimes this process results in having to close a shop which isn’t viable. These decisions are always made with a heavy heart and are never taken lightly.

“Despite the hard work of staff and volunteers to keep the shop open, sadly it wasn’t profitable any more.

The international charity is dedicated to eradicating poverty in what it describes as a “world rich in resources” by working with some of the poorest communities. It also provides an emergency response to crisis situations.

Oxfam was plunged into crisis in February last year when it emerged some of its workers engaged in “sex parties” with prostitutes in the aftermath of 2010’s earthquake in Haiti.

High-profile figures quit as Oxfam ambassadors following allegations and the charity and local shoppers admitted that the scandal had impacted their views of Oxfam and giving to charity.

The blow to Astley Bridge comes after a summer of doubts for another longtime Blackburn Road fixture. Astley Bridge’s last remaining post office has been under threat, with cutbacks to services in recent months alongside a struggle to find a permanent postmaster for the branch.

Ward councillor John Walsh said: “I know a number of shops are having problems maintaining turnover and staffing. It’s always worrying when we lose businesses, charity shops create footfall in the area.

"It’s sad and disappointing and I’m sorry to hear it’s going, but I can understand from a charity point of view why it has to close. I hope an alternative use will be found for the shop quickly.”

He reassured shoppers that ‘a number of successful businesses’ are still doing well in the area, and there are other charity shops for donations. He said: “There are other shops, including the Bolton Hospice shop, where there is still an opportunity for people to give, donate and buy in Astley Bridge.

Mr Lancelott Redfern said: “We’d like to thank all the staff and wonderful volunteers in Astley Bridge for all their hard work in the shop, and pass on our thanks to everyone in the community who has generously supported Oxfam over so many years.”