ACCRINGTON'S town centre traders have expressed surprise at the news that an international mobile phone company is to pull out of town.
The Vodafone store on Broadway will be closing its doors on 14 March and company bosses are now in consultation with staff to establish what prospects they have for the future.
The prime site McDonalds building on Blackburn Road is also still empty after the fast food giant decided it could not sustain two restaurants in the town.
Vodafone's shock decision comes just months before the completion of a new multi-million-pound development, which will see companies such as JJB Sports expanding on to Broadway and Wilkinson's moving into town.
Town Centre Manager Bill Huntly said: "I am disappointed that they have decided not to stay in the town. I would have thought that with the new development later this year there would be an opportunity for them to do rather well. My reaction is one of surprise."
Mike Carney of Hyndburn Chamber of Trade said: "We are disappointed to have any company leave the town centre but we are very buoyant about the new units that are being built. Now that the big boys have signed up, we won't have much of a problem filling the spaces.
"Vodafone will have its individual reasons for closing down.
"Traders are looking forward to the happy days when the town centre is finished as they have found it difficult during the work. We are highly optimistic about the future.
"Maybe Vodafone is not aware of what is on the cards for Accrington.
"The town is on the up and up and we have got to look longer term than the next couple of months."
Director of Hyndburn FIRST, Nigel Rix, said he was not surprised by the announcement as the mobile phone market was now shifting and the decision needed to be considered in the context of the company's national strategy.
He added: "This is an excellent opportunity for other businesses to come in and provide a great choice for shoppers in Accrington town centre.
"There will always be comings and goings in the retail world and whoever comes in will have the benefit of being opposite a new shopping development and retail environment."