Quiet optimism for shopping centre

Staff at Marks & Spencer Priory Meadow celebrate 100years of trading
Staff at Marks & Spencer Priory Meadow celebrate 100years of trading

THE MANAGER of Priory Meadow Shopping Centre is optimistic for the future and said that some big names could be moving in.

John Hough said: “Our plan is to seek out interesting retailers for not necessarily long periods of time in order to keep the shops open.

“In the long term we are looking to raise the game and get retailers in who are new to the town.”

He said that these were likely to include some big name stores, although was unable to divulge any further details of exactly which stores could possibly be moving in in the future.

He added: “In the short term, we are about to complete re-letting of the Next unit.”

He said that a women’s fashion store that already has a presence here and there on town high streets would be moving in.

The Priory Meadow branch of health food store Julian Graves closed last week, after the company went into administration on July 2 as a result of difficult trading conditions.

Other currently empty units in Priory Meadow include those formerly occupied by JJB Sports (temporarily used by Past Times), Herbal Inn, Early Learning Centre, Birthdays, and Next (recently used as a pirate shop).

Mr Hough explained that of these, the only units which had been released back to the centre management were Next and the Early Learning Centre.

A total of eight town centre shops have this year been threatened with closure.

The Early Learning Centre, Gamestation, Birthdays, and Julian Graves have closed after the companies ran into trouble.

There were fears for Game, Bonmarché, Peacocks, and Clinton Cards which remain open.

Clothing chain Next decided to close its Priory Meadow store last December.

Mr Hough said: “We are never going to go down the road of putting in charity shops or anything like that.

“Quality is important. We have got interest in the Early Learning Centre unit, and expect it will be filled before Christmas.”

Pizza Express was a welcome addition to the Priory Meadow offering, when the restaurant opened in Queens Road, in February this year.

Existing stores, including Blue Inc and Carphone Warehouse, also reopened after undergoing extensive refurbishment and expansion of their branches.