Bury St Edmunds: Independent traders could help fill void that will be left if Jessops and HMV go

HMV store in Bury St Edmunds. HMV has offically gone into administration putting 4,000 jobs at risk

HMV store in Bury St Edmunds. HMV has offically gone into administration putting 4,000 jobs at risk country wide. - Credit: Archant

A SENIOR business leader said this week that Bury St Edmunds’ independent traders will be able to seize opportunities created by the collapse of two high street giants.

Speaking as music chain HMV followed Jessops into administration, Mark Cordell, chief executive of town centre business improvement group Bid4 Bury, said it was now up to independents to show how responsive they can be to consumers’ needs.

Mr Cordell said: “I know it sounds like a cliché, but with bad news come opportunities. Without trying to be disrespectful, it is a case of the survival of the fittest.

“My view is that selling products like those offered by HMV sell is not a road I would go down. Personally I think those days are gone, that’s my view.

“But the only shop that sells cameras with some knowledge is Sneezums, on the Cornhill – an independent business who now have an opportunity.”

He added: “The biggest advantage independents have got is that they can decide to change their business almost on a daily basis. They don’t have this huge structure that the national company does, where you have to run everything through the regional office, the national office and the director. They can be far more responsive to the needs of the consumer. This does give them an opportunity.”

But Mr Cordell said he did not expect an independent business to physically fill the Arc Shopping Centre units if buyers for the HMV or Jessops could not be found or chose not to reopen a Bury branch.

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“In my view landlords are still expecting far too higher rent considering what the market is,” he added.

“On top of that the Government doesn’t do anything about business rates other than put them up.”

Mr Cordell said that in some respects Bury has been a victim of its own success – the Arc bringing a greater mix of national brands than seen previously.

He added: “Before the Arc this kind of thing would not have affected Bury. But because we have moved up a division, in my view, you then have to take the bad days with the good days. You can promote a town as much as possible but if a national branch goes into administration, it goes into administration.

“I don’t know what will happen at HMV but in the last year we have got a good track record of when brands do get sold off, our stores reopen, for example Clinton Cards and Game. I’m hopeful that if HMV were to be saved, I’m hopeful that Bury will be seen as worth reopening.”

Jessops, which had only re-opened a branch in Bury two months ago following the Cupola House blaze, went into administration on January 9.

On January 11 administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers said all 187 national stores would close.

HMV called in administrators from Deloitte late on Monday.

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