Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

More shop closures lead to Bangor fears

Yet more shops in Bangor are closing down, or have closed, amid fears that Bangor will become a ‘ghost town’ if business does not pick up.



In a further shake-up, the Co-op, one of the main anchor tenants in the Flagship Centre, is reported to be relocating to a smaller unit away from the shopping centre.

Now a local councillor has followed in the footsteps of Deli owner Jayne Howson in calling for a meeting to be held to prevent Bangor’s business sector deteriorating further.

Councillor Marion Smith said: “My question to the Town Centre Management is could he liaise with the Bangor Chamber of Commerce, the Chief Executive of North Down Borough Council, Roads Services and other Departments, the developer of Queens Parade, as well as trader representatives from independent and multi national shops.

“This would be to arrange a conference/seminar, call it what you will, which must be sooner rather than later. It should have a one item agenda, with the theme — together we move Bangor forward.”

US computer games retailer, Game Stop, has closed its stores in Bangor's Flagship Centre and Belfast's Arthur Square this week.

It said 'inflexible' landlords were responsible for shutting three of its four Northern Ireland stores with the loss of 15 jobs.

Game Stop’s Northern Europe managing director Niall Lawlor said: "After a long period of negotiations of rent terms with landlords, we were left with no choice but to close the locations because we couldn't get to realistic rental levels."

The company was criticism for failing to give notice of the closures.

Mr Lawlor said: "We gave them notice on the day but again, it's been a very frustrating process."

He said he had been seeking to renegotiate rent so that the company could operate "at some level of profitability" and that staff were told on Friday that the shops would be shutting the day after or the following day but claimed the company was acting legally in doing so.

Game Stop is one of many chains to close in Bangor in recent months. The town has already lost Woodside’s Department Store, Focus men’s clothing shop, D2, and Ethel Austin and HMV with Peacock’s and Bon Marche set to go. HMV said it was ‘reluctantly’ shutting its store in Main Street, Bangor at the weekend.

And around 16 Bonmarche stores, including the one beside Bangor’s Flagship Centre , are set to close after the retailer was bought out of administration.

The Community Telegraph has been told that the Cooperative shop in the Flagship Centre will be relocating to the Bon Marche unit ‘as quickly as possible’.

Stephen Dunlop, Bangor Town Centre Manager said: “At the present time closures have been within UK multiples, and they are always focused on locating in shopping centres.”

He said Game Stop’s decision to pull out at such short notice was ‘in some respects disgraceful’.

Mr Dunlop said as soon as the Co-Op gets a drinks licence for the Bon Marche unit it would move there as it sees its future in ‘neighbourhood stores’. He said the company wanted to be in the unit by March 2012.

At the time of going to press no-one from the Flagship Centre was available for comment.

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