IT will be the end of an era on Friday when Brian Fords Discount Store in Barnstaple closes it doors for the last time. The Seven Brethren store has come to the end of the aisle after 35 years, following its sale to Tesco, which will develop a 95,0000 squ

IT will be the end of an era on Friday when Brian Fords Discount Store in Barnstaple closes it doors for the last time.

The Seven Brethren store has come to the end of the aisle after 35 years, following its sale to Tesco, which will develop a 95,0000 square foot supermarket and filling station on the site.

The doors officially close at 5pm on Friday and it will be a sad moment for the 170 staff, several of whom began working with the Ford family before the store opened.

Around 30 of those will continue their careers in the company at the nearby Value Houses in Barnstaple and Bideford and other interests around the South West, while the rest will all be offered jobs by Tesco.

"The protection of staff employment was really important and why we chose to deal with Tesco once we knew the redevelopment of the store would be beyond our means," said director Mike Ford, Brian's son.

"It's a little bit poignant to see it empty, but we made the decision in 2003 to move away from food to non-food goods.

"It had never been our intention to buy Ferraris with the proceeds and drive off into the sunset. We just knew it was time to change the direction of our retail business.

"This building was reaching the end of its life in 2000. I think the new store will be a fabulous one and far bigger than anything we could have created.

"We really do want to thank all our customers for their amazing loyalty over the years, as well as our local suppliers and we could not have competed on terms with the biggest retailers in the country without them.