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Just when you thought the the High Street had no more surprises in store, it has been announced that we are to lose yet another familiar face.

Solent Cleaners was established in 1964 and has been a popular establishment used by many local residents over the years, while expanding to own ten stores in Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex. There is certainly no Christmas spirit involved in the timing of the closure with the chains 63 staff receiving the news at short notice right before Christmas.

Wendy Marsh, Manageress of the store has worked for Solent Cleaners for over 21 years and is devastated by this turn of events. Wendy explains how she has built up relationships with her customers over the years and has shared the shock and sadness at the closure with them this week. She says “I never expected this. I have had customers cry with me this week and had to say goodbye to all our customers and staff. I would love to be able to save them and be safe until I retire but it’s not to be, I’m so sorry to see the end of it all.”.

Below: Wendy pictured below (left) with her daughters.

Below: Facebook announcement of closure.


The sad announcement comes as the entire chain goes into liquidation. Although there were some efforts made to find buyers for the individual stores it appears as if that possibility is very unlikely now. The failure of the business has been blamed on “Increased employee costs, rents, rates, and spiralling energy costs [which] have reduced profit margins on a declining turnover”. Despite introducing extra services such as ironing, Solent just can’t keep up with the changing face of business and additional costs.

Below: Solent Cleaners pictured in 1965 and an advert from 1971.

Below: Solent Cleaners…inside and out.

Customers of Solent Cleaners have been advised that they must pick their garments up before the shop bids a final farewell tomorrow, on Saturday 14th December. They will be open 10am – 4pm and any items left uncollected after that will have to be collected from their Portsmouth branch.

The problem with being such a longstanding business is that many who use Solent’s services haven’t bothered to update their contact details over the years, creating a situation where, with only a weeks notice, Wendy and staff have had to try and contact everyone. Unfortunately it looks like many will miss the boat on the final collection, so if you know someone who might have something there, please tell them to collect it urgently tomorrow before 4pm.

Below: Solent Cleaners website.

Wendy reflects sadly on the situation and says, “I thought I would be there until I retired, as I believed in them…they have never given me reason to think anything else. I must admit after all I’ve done for them I thought they would say thank you or even goodbye”.

The High Street has changed a lot in the time that Solent has existed in Fleet Road, with stores coming and going, so it’s sad to see one of the oldest businesses finally cave in to financial pressures.

Describing the changing face of Fleet and the closure of the business, Wendy states, “I can’t believe how much the High Street has changed. It’s not much fun walking around the shops now. I feel very let down but I wouldn’t like to be in their [Solent’s] shoes. I’m hoping that any buyers would be interested in more than one shop as the staff are like one big family”.

“I would love to say to all my past and present staff and customers, thank you all for my experiences with you. You all helped me become the Manageress that I am and I will miss you all”.

We wish Wendy and all the staff at Solent all the very best and we know they will be sorely missed too.


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