Three more town centre shops under threat

ANOTHER three town centre shops in Hastings could be closing down.

Clothing store Peacocks, Queens Road, and Bonmarche, in Priory Meadow, face uncertain futures over mounting debts.

Peacocks, based in Cardiff, has £240 million debts and went into administration on Wednesday.

KPMG have been appointed as administrators and are looking for potential buyers. Peacocks employs around 10,000 staff across the UK.

The Peacock Group also owns Bonmarche, based in Huddersfield and a buyer is still being sought for this chain.

Store Twenty One, in Priory Meadow, has closing down sale posters on its windows but shopping centre managers say it is in negotiations over whether to renew its lease.

This the latest setback to Hastings town centre trade.

Clothing chain Next, which employed around 20 staff, closed its Priory Meadow shop on December 29. Past Times shut its doors two weeks ago after the company went bust. The firm specialised in retro-themed gifts and had 100 branches across the UK. The Early Learning Centre’s Priory Meadow store is also shutting on February 11.

Rob Woods, town centre manager, said: “We certainly hope there will not be more empty stores in town. We will have to wait and see but it’s nothing that Hastings is responsible for, as it’s bigger issues we are dealing with.”

Richard Kirk, chief executive of The Peacock Group, said: “It is with deep sadness that we have been left with no other option but to place the business into administration. We have worked tirelessly over the past year to agree a new financial structure to take the business forward, including seeking new investment for the business. This is a hugely sad development for all of our stakeholders, especially our employees who have shown total commitment to the business over an uncertain and difficult period.”