Hope B&Q site in Ipswich can be filled by other retailers
Business bosses in Ipswich are hopeful a large retail store in Ipswich can be filled when the B&Q branch at Anglia Retail Park closes in June.
Some staff are understood to have been told that the store is due to close its doors in about four month’s time, with around 20 members of staff believed to be joining colleagues at the Ransomes store. Chiefs at the DIY giant last night moved to reassure people they were hoping to redeploy as many staff members as possible to other areas of the company in a bid to keep redundancies to a minimum, but they have yet to make a formal announcement.
A spokesman said: “We have let colleagues at our Ipswich store know that their store is one of those planned for closure next financial year (2016/17).
“Our focus for the coming months is on redeploying as many colleagues as we can within B&Q and the Kingfisher Group.”
When the June target date was put to them, the retailer refused to confirm or deny the reports.
Concerns had been raised when the closure was first announced last October that the site would remain empty after several businesses have already vacated buildings there in recent years, including Comet, leaving just three large retailers at the site.
John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “While it’s frustrating for Ipswich to lose a large store on the Anglia Retail Park, it is encouraging to see that other businesses are interested in taking the space, as this will help to deliver continued prosperity to the town.
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“It is important that businesses and the local community continue to support our local retail parks as this makes a positive impact on our local economic growth.”
One retailer linked to a possible move had been B&M, which already operates a store in The Sandlings business park in Ransomes, but yesterday the chain ruled out it had been in talks.
A spokesman said: “We are actively seeking opportunities to increase the number of B&M stores across East Anglia, however I am not aware that we are looking at this site at this present moment.
“As a growing business with more than 480 stores nationwide we are always looking to expand further; providing great value products and world class service to even more customers every week as well as playing an integral part in the local community.”
Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich had previously expressed his hope for it to remain retail space, but admitted if the building remained empty it would have to be considered for housing.
“I think it is quite well placed with potential customers also living in communities just outside Ipswich,” he said. “I know the borough owns some land behind it and it might eventually be considered for residential use.”