Felixstowe: Rent help plea to stop stores closing

Hamilton Road, Felixstowe.

Hamilton Road, Felixstowe. - Credit: Archant

Landlords need to take action to help shopkeepers stay in business, according to a Suffolk Chamber of Trade chairman.

Andrew Rowdon, chairman of the Felixstowe chamber, said property owners needed to be more flexible and work with traders for the long haul.

Rents for properties in the resort’s town centre have been causing growing concern with some traders blaming them partly for business closures and also for ensuring that empty properties are not filled.

Two major stores, The Wharf and Halfords, are closing because their leases are expiring with the current rents or proposed increases a factor in their decisions not to continue.

It is understood another unit in the middle of Hamilton Road has remained empty for more than a decade partly because the rent on the existing lease is too high for any new business to contemplate taking over.

Mr Rowdon said the loss of the two high-profile stores in such large premises was “very sad and frustrating”.

He said: “On the flip side, we have lost businesses and we have seen new ones start or move into the town.

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“We don’t really want to see two large premises stand empty though for very long and we hope these can be filled quickly.

“In general, I think maybe landlords need to be a bit more flexible and work with the estate agents and new businesses to try and keep shops occupied.

“They should be looking to reduce the rent for a number of months or perhaps a year or two to help businesses get off the ground, offering help to those who suffer problems paying their rent, or look at other ways of helping.

“There are no hard and fast rules.

“People who own properties want to earn money from them and we can all understand that, but sometimes less is more – if a shop goes and it stands empty and no rent is coming in, then the owner loses out, while they could stay open and pay less rent to get them back on their feet.

“That, in the long term, has to be better for everyone.”