THE couple who founded a popular clothing store in Corbridge have thanked their former customers after it closed for business.

Alan Foster and his wife Norma founded Norma James in Corbridge in 1970, and were hugely successful in their 40-year stewardship before stepping down in 2009.

Although they moved away from the day-to-day running of the store, they continued to own the leasehold - and Alan expressed his sadness that the store had closed after 50 years.

The current owners said in a statement last week that the store was due to be sold, but it fell through due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alan said: “We drove past the shop on Tuesday, and seeing the papers up was so sad - it’s 40 years of our lives gone.

“We’ve had lots of people ringing us up to congratulate us on the success we’ve had over the years.

“I want to thank the amazing customers from all over the country. We had a great following.

“A lot of parents came to the area to visit their children at university in Newcastle, and they came to the shop and became regular customers even after their children had left university. It was just brilliant, and we were sad to see it go.

"It was amazing to put Corbridge on the map.”

Alan, who became a retail expert after completing his national service, married Norma, a model, in 1965.

Norma, who gave her name to the shop, also spoke fondly of their working life together at the store.

She added: “We just wanted to say what a wonderful life we had there. It was amazing, travelling to fashion shows all over Europe and even in America.

“We raised a lot of money through fashion shows and other things - I wouldn’t change it for anything. We just have to live with our memories.”