Shoppers and the Arndale Centre have been dealt another body blow after it was announced that WH Smith in Accrington is to close.
Town centre chiefs said the store’s impending closure was ‘extremely sad news’.
A WH Smith’s spokesperson said the store will close in March as bosses were unable to agree rent fees with the landlord. They have not confirmed if staff will be made redundant.
Accrington Arndale bosses declined to comment.
The news follows a series of Accrington town centre shop closures in the past 12 months, including Clintons, Fozdar Discount, Bon Marche, New Look and H Samuel, which closed last week.
Hyndburn council leader Miles Parkinson described WH Smith in Accrington as a cornerstone of the Arndale and said the store’s impending closure was ‘a sign of the times’.
He added: “Town centres are changing and we are going through a quick change in Accrington town centre. We have to be realists and look at what retail is going through. More is now being bought on the internet.”
Councillor Peter Britcliffe, Conservative group leader, said he would like to see all-party talks with the Arndale owners to see if anything could be done.
He said: “This is a tremendous blow to Accrington as the decline in the centre is unbelievable.”
Shopper Brendan Shiel, 54, from Huncoat, said: “Closing it is taking the heart out of the centre of Accrington and the Arndale. It is very sad for the employees and for the people of Hyndburn.”
The Arndale was sold in March to a confidential buyer understood to be a North American investment company.
In July, the Observer revealed how a dozen units – nearly a quarter of the complex – were empty following closures.
The cabinet member for town centres, Coun Clare Pritchard, said: “I’m sad to hear this news and I’m in the process of arranging a meeting with the owners of the Arndale as a matter of urgency.”
A WH Smith spokesperson said: “The decision to close has been taken following the lease expiring. We have been unable to agree a rent with the landlord which makes continuing to trade in Accrington a viable option.
"We are disappointed to be losing our presence in the town and if a suitable location became available that was viable, we would consider it.”