End of an era as Bluck’s closes its doors
Bluck’s of Bermuda has ceased trading after 175 years in business, and provisional liquidators have been appointed.
The china, crystal and antiques shop on Front Street, which started out as a hardware store, has been operating since 1844.
However, the company, which is called Wm Bluck & Co Ltd, has attributed the downturn in business that led to its closure to four main issues. One was the loss of its main customer base following the 2008 economic downturn, the other issues were the changing tourism demographic; higher costs of doing business; and changes in modern lifestyles, including online shopping.
“In simple terms, the closure of Bluck’s is a sign of the times,” said Peter Darling, a director of the company. “There is no single reason for us closing. Business has decreased and the costs of doing business have increased. Following the 2008 global financial crisis, among the people who left Bermuda were some of our best customers. Other good customers were tourists; our tourism business has changed, and also, today people have direct access online to buy china and crystal directly from the manufacturers.”
Mr Darling added: “In addition, lifestyles are different — people eat out more and don’t entertain at home as much as they used to. We’ve considered and tried many options to diversify and adapt to today’s needs, but it hasn’t worked well enough and the directors have regretfully decided to wind up the company.”
William Bluck & Co was established in west Hamilton, in 1844, by John Bluck. In 1935, Mr Darling’s grandfather, Leslie Darling, joined the company and eventually become the owner. The business switched its focus to china and crystal, and thrived as tourists bought up the British pieces it sold. Among famous names who visited the shop and bought items was John Lennon, in 1980. Changes in US duties in the Nineties eventually dampened sales, and things became more challenging following the economic downturn of 2008.
During its history, Bluck’s expanded to five shops, before reducing again to a single store, the original location at 4 Front Street. That shop closed on Friday.
Notices have been posted on the front door and window, informing customers that the company has ceased trading. Michael Morrison and Charles Thresh, of KPMG Advisory Limited, have been appointed joint provisional liquidators.
In a statement, Mr Darling said: “We are particularly saddened by this turn of events because of the history and our family’s involvement with the business. My grandfather had an incredible eye for beautiful and quality items, and he did a phenomenal job of building the Bluck’s brand for excellence.”
He added: “Thank you to all those who have worked at Bluck’s over the years — full-time, part-time, seasonal and summer interns. Many people around the world enjoy beautiful items in their homes every day thanks to you. Times change, and we have to move on.”
The joint liquidators, who were appointed by order of the Supreme Court, will prepare to realise the remaining assets of the company, which may include a sale in due course of the remaining stock at the shop.