Store closure plan fears in Skegness

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THE FUTURE of several major businesses in Skegness have been called into doubt after their parent group revealed plans for sweeping store closures across the UK.

The Arcadia Group last week announced the closure of 260 of its stores over the next three years in the wake of falling profits.

The group owns chains such as Evans, Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge, all of which have a presence in Skegness.

Announcing the moves to the BBC last week, Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green said that the closures would mainly affect those stores whose leases were up for renewal in the next three years.

Out of the company’s 2,500 UK stores, he said around 450 to 460 fell into that category and that more than half of those would be under threat when their lease was up.

He said: “We have got, from my memory, 450 or 460 stores where leases expire in the next three years. And I think on our latest summary we will close more than half of those on lease expiry.

“Now there may be other opportunities that turn up that we might want to open.

“But certainly, in terms of our existing portfolio, currently that’s our thinking.”

He added that the firm would be looking to renegotiate its rents with the landlords of affected stores before deciding whether to close them.

Meanwhile, Skegness Town Centre manager Stefan Krause said he remained cautiously optimistic that the brands would all remain in the town, owing to its unusual status as a seaside tourist destination.

“It is always difficult to judge what will happen because there are a lot of commercial considerations in it,” he said. “But we know that the stores in Skegness are commercially very successful.”

However, he added that Arcadia had employed a strategy elsewhere of bringing different stores under the one roof and that this remained a possibility here.

“I don’t expect in future that we’ll see these brands disappear from Skegness, but it is possible that one or two separate ones might merge.”

Skegness mayor Steve Kirk, meanwhile, has urged Arcadia to name the threatened sites as soon as possible - adding that a failure to do so would leave staff across the group in limbo.

But he added that Arcadia’s stores in Skegness were all strong performers and that, with major chains such as B&Q still moving into the town, it remained a popular destination for UK businesses.

Arcadia employs 44,000 UK staff and has 3,100 stores worldwide.