Arndale Centre bosses have admitted that they are struggling to get retailers to move in after another store revealed it is planning to move out.
Footwear chain Stead and Simpson has revealed that it is to close. It is the latest blow to the shop centre and comes a week after WH Smith announced its plan to close its store in March.
It follows a series of high profile closures over the past 12 months including Clintons, Fozdar Discount, Bon Marche, New Look and H Samuel.
But David Berman, the asset manager for Arndale Centre Holdings General Partnership, has told the Observer that he expects the fortunes of Accrington’s flagship shoping centre to pick up. During an exclusive interview he told how:
- The centre is struggling to attract retailers.
- ‘Highly confidential negotiations are ongoing between them and local community groups regarding empty units
- Bosses are negotiating with WH Smith in the hope the company will stay in Accrington.
Mr Berman said: “WH Smith have taken a very aggressive negotiating stance. We don’t want to see them leave the scheme. That happening doesn’t work for us or the town.”
He added that the owners are actively seeking tenants and trying to build the centre back up again.
He said: “It is hard to get anyone to move in. Retailers are really struggling at the moment – everyone is. But the Arndale centre will pick up. We are working with the council and community groups.
“It is our intention to get the Arndale Centre back up and running so it becomes a pleasant shopping experience.
“We are in very tough economic times. We are talking to local groups. It is highly confidential but it is about the empty retail units.”
There are currently 52 retail units which make up the Broadway shopping centre – 38 that are being used and 14 of which lie empty.
Of the 33 retail units currently accessible to shoppers inside the Arndale – ten are empty.
A spokesperson for Stead and Simpson said: “We can confirm that the Stead & Simpson store in Accrington is closing due to the lease expiring in the summer.
“The decision to close a store is always a difficult one and is not taken lightly. The decision is not, in any way, a reflection on the commitment and hard work of our staff. Every effort will be made to re-deploy any personnel affected to nearby stores wherever possible.”
Shoppers this week told the Observer that they were worried about the Arndale’s future.
Jean Cunnigham, 66, of Clayton-le-Moors, said: “ I come here on Tuesdays and Fridays but there isn’t much left now. Hopefully the new bus station will give the town a boost. We shall see.”
Hughie Cairns, 63, who sometimes shops in Accrington, said:¿“The fact that so many shops are closing causes a knock-on effect.”