KINGSTON Town centre may lose four key stores after major high street chains announced shop closures.
Lidl supermarket in Fairfield West, just off Eden Street, will be shut in June while furniture store Cargo, based in Eden Walk, is set to move its operations online.
The news follows high profile stores Austin Reed and BHS facing closure after their companies went into administration.
Speaking to the Courier, Kingston Council leader Kevin Davis said: “Shops open and shops close all the time. I don’t think it’s particularly startling. Obviously, some of them have gone out of business and I’m sure they’ll be replaced by other businesses that want to come into the town.
“It won’t have an effect on shopping in the area at all. Kingston is a thriving shopping area and it will always be thriving. But we do have to make sure we attract the best types of shops to come to Kingston which is the strategy that we have got, to redevelop parts of the town centre which are tired so that we can keep the quality of shopping high.”
Despite Davis’ assurances, others fear the closures are far more worrying.
Mark Amos, who works as an insurance broker in Kingston, thinks the changes show a worrying trend on British high streets.
The 27-year-old said: “Shops just aren’t doing as well any more. You walk down the street now and you see more and more that are boarded up. I think it’s the internet, it’s taking money away from stores.
“It’s sad, I don’t think Kingston is as badly hit as other places, it’s still very busy at weekends for shopping, but everywhere is feeling the pinch.”
Amos said he was particularly shocked about the closure of Lidl.
He added: “I do my weekly shop in there and it always seems busy. Normally there are massive lines at the tills. So I’m really confused why they’re shutting down. I’m going to miss it as the food is good and cheap and it’s on my walk home from work.”
According to Lidl, the stores closure isn’t down to a lack of custom.
A spokeswoman for the budget supermarket chain said: “The site no longer accommodates the requirements of our new store concept.”
The spokesman confirmed that people currently employed at the Kingston branch of the budget supermarket would be offered alternative positions in the Wimbledon store.
Staff at Cargo, BHS and Austin Reed faced less certain futures.
BHS has been in the news this week after entering administration and face a multi-million pound tax bill, putting 11,000 jobs around the country at risk.
A spokesman for the chain, which has 164 stores in the UK, said: “The group has been undergoing restructuring and the shareholders have been in negotiations to find a buyer for the business. These negotiations have been unsuccessful.
“Consequently the group is very unlikely to meet all contractual payments. The group will continue to trade as usual whilst the administrators seek to sell it as a going concern.
“Further announcements will be made as appropriate in due course.”
Austin Reed also went into administration on Tuesday as a spokesman for the company blamed a “challenging” retail market.
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Where are the shops that face closure?
(EDIT: BHS and Austin Reed will shut unless buyer found)
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