ONE of York's oldest and best-known shops is to close after nearly 70 years in business.

Macdonalds furniture store has been in Fossgate since 1947, but it will close in the spring when owner Martyn Macdonald retires. All existing orders will be honoured.

There are plans to turn the building, which previously housed The Electric cinema and then The Scala, into a restaurant and to replace an extension and outbuildings at the back with flats.

The building opened in 1911 as York's first purpose-built picture house.

York Press:

The building when it was a cinema

Mr Macdonald, who has worked in the shop for 40 years, said he always envisaged retiring at 60, but he is bowing out slightly early.

He has written to customers to assure them that all existing orders are being honoured. The shop has closed temporarily but will re-open for a closing down sale from December 30, ahead of a full closure early in 2016.

Mr Macdonald said: "My family and I have taken this very difficult decision after much thought. I always intended to retire at 60, but I was made an offer for the building and it seemed like the right time to do it.

“We would like to thank all our customers, some of whom are grandchildren of the people my grandfather was serving all those years ago.

"We hope they will continue to visit us between now and the closing day. And of course I would like to sincerely thank all our hardworking staff who have made this store such a success, despite in recent times competition from out-of-town stores and internet shopping. Special thanks goes to my manager, Andy Whiting.”

The building has been bought by Fossgate Developments, who plan to refurbish it.

In a planning application to City of York Council, their agents said Fossgate was a "vibrant, lively area, full of independent businesses, cafés, bars and shops", and added: "Due to the size and volume of the cinema the proposed restaurant use will enable a viable reuse of this important heritage asset, whilst minimising interventions within the historic fabric."

York Press:

The original Macdonald's shop. Its current premises are just out of shot to the right

Macdonalds opened in 1947 next door to its current premises, in the shop now occupied by the gift shop Give The Dog A Bone. When The Scala closed in 1957, Macdonalds decided to expand and moved into the larger building.

Mr Macdonald added: “I will be very sad when the store closes but I have to retire some time and now seems ideal. After 40 years of long hours and the stress of working in retail, I am looking forward to spending my time pursuing my real passion, which is sailing.”