RENOWNED York shop Mulberry Hall is to close after nearly 60 years in the city's historic heart.

Bosses at the family-owned shop in Stonegate confirmed on Thursday morning that it was to cease trading, after "lengthy consideration".

The shop's owner Adam Sinclair said it was with sadness that they reported the decision.

He added: "As a priority I wish to thank, and pay tribute to, our wonderful staff and customers who have supported this family business over nearly sixty years - I hope it has been a lovely place to work and a great joy for everybody."

In a short written statement Mr Sinclair, a well-known figure on the city's business scene who has served as chairman for City Team York and played a part in the recent Business Improvement District campaign, said a closing down sale would start immediately.

He declined to comment further.

City leaders called the closure - a "great shame" for the city, and City of York Council leader Chris Steward admitted that out-of-town developments should take some of the blame for the shop's demise.

"Mulberry Hall will know their business far better than I do, but the likes of Vangarde do undoubtedly take business out of the city centre," he said.

"Although I think Vangarde has been a net positive for the city, there are going to be some city centre businesses that lose out.

"In this case I think more relevant has been the increase in online shopping and changes in shopping habits, but we must not be complacent and when any major long-term company like Mulberry Hall closes we need to ask why."

Cllr Keith Aspden, deputy council leader, also paid tribute to Mr Sinclair's work and wished staff at Mulberry Hall well.

Mulberry Hall's shop is partly housed in a landmark timber-framed building that dates to 1434, and speculation has already begun on whether the shop will follow other city centre sites by becoming restaurants or bars.

In September, the business began looking to lease two parts of its building with a view to downsizing.

At the time, Mr Sinclair said it was a "speculative" move designed to look into options for the future.

He said then: "The business is changing radically, as it is for many retailers, businesses and organisations across the spectrum.

"Some of it is moving online and we need to consider all potential options for the future."

He would not comment on the future of the site or on whether Mulberry Hall's online business would continue.

Two parts of the site are still being advertised for rent by property agents Blacks, with planning permission in place for the buildings on Little Stonegate to be converted into a restaurant or cafe.

Frank Wood, chairman of York Retail Forum, said the closure would leave "a very large hole" in the city, adding: "It is an absolute shame. Mulberry Hall is an iconic store, which has featured strongly in York’s history. It’s a great loss to the city.

"York is very lucky in that it is a go-to destination, but we cannot be complacent. We would love to see a high profile retail brand replace it as we try to make York a more attractive city. It already has a huge number of high profile retailers, but another would be fantastic."

Make it York's head of business Andrew Sharp said they were "actively targetting" top name shops to come to York.

He said: "Mulberry Hall has been a prominent and successful retail business in York for nearly 60 years and it is very sad to hear this news of closure.  The business has contributed significantly to the city’s retail offer and it will be much missed by both visitors and its loyal local clientele.  

"It occupies a prime retail space in the city centre and we’re sure this will be much in demand and quickly filled. The Stonegate area is a very popular retail destination and one of the city’s most loved streets, offering a vibrant shopping experience right in the heart of York."

Mulberry Hall's announcement comes less than a month after the news that Macdonald's furniture shop in Fossgate is to close, after 68 years in business. Its building, in the former Scala cinema building, is to be turned into a restaurant.

Fans and customers have already expressed their sadness at the Mulberry Hall news.

Mulberry Hall on Stonegate, pictured when the shop was extended in 1982.