Firm to ponder future after site snub

ONE of Bury St Edmunds' long-standing businesses is to reconsider its future in the town after being snubbed as choice of anchor store in a multi-million pound retail development.

ONE of Bury St Edmunds' long-standing businesses is to reconsider its future in the town after being snubbed as choice of anchor store in a multi-million pound retail development.

Bruce Sturrock, managing director of independent department store Palmers, said he plans to review his company's options after rival Debenhams was recommended for inclusion in the Cattle Market scheme.

Following a behind closed doors meeting, members of St Edmundsbury Borough Council said the choice of operator had been made to provide "best value" for the people of Bury St Edmunds and beyond.

Developers Centros Miller will contribute towards the shop's fitting-out costs.


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Mr Sturrock, whose East Anglian-based chain employs more than 400 people around the region, said this claim was misleading, and that his Buttermarket store, and other smaller town centre traders, would be affected by the council's choice.

"We are not scared of competition, but this decision means we will not be trading under normal market forces. The right thing for the council to do would be to allow us to develop on the Cattle Market as well – then the competition would be fair.

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"We will now have to review our options for the future," he said.

Palmers, which has operated a store within Bury St Edmunds for more than 40 years, hope to meet with councillors to discuss remaining part of the redevelopment scheme.

Andrew Varley, chairman of the Cattle Market Redevelopment Working Party, which made last night's decision, said: "Palmers is, of course, at liberty to make this proposal, and we are open to suggestion. We have greatly valued the store's contribution to the town in the past, and very much hope it will continue to trade here in the future.

"But it is clear from the reports of our advisors that with Debenhams as the anchor store, and with the success of the Cattle Market scheme as a whole, Palmers' own trading position will improve.

"And with the involvement of Debenhams, the development will produce higher rents from other, well-known quality traders, giving council tax payers a higher share of the income, which is an excellent outcome."

Council leader John Griffiths said: "We are keen to be as supportive as possible of Palmers. The store has always been good friends with Bury, and we will continue to be good friends with it.

Debenhams withdrew from Bury St Edmunds six years ago and will now provide a flagship store on the redeveloped 12-acre Cattle Market site, to attract shoppers and tempt other high street names into the scheme.

A company spokesman said: "Our outline proposal is for an 85,000 square foot store, which will face onto the (redeveloped Cattle Market's) public square in the heart of the scheme, and will offer our unique mix of brands for men, women, children and the home.

"We look forward to working with Centros Miller and St Edmundsbury Borough Council on the detailed design and arrangements for the store."

The recommendation will be rubber-stamped by the council's Conservative cabinet on Tuesday, and then discussed by full council later next month.

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