Retailer needed to replace Woolworths

THE loss of Woolworths in an Essex town must be met with a swift response in order to keep shoppers visiting the area, it was warned last night.

Elliot Furniss

THE loss of Woolworths in an Essex town must be met with a swift response in order to keep shoppers visiting the area, it was warned last night.

The branch in Pier Avenue, Clacton, is one of hundreds around the country that is closing its doors this week and there are fears it will leave a large hole in the heart of the town's retail centre.

Stephen Mayzes, a Tendring district councillor for the Rush Green part of the town, has called for urgent talks to secure a “major brand retailer” to replace the doomed store.

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Mr Mayzes has set up a public page on the popular Facebook internet site in order to encourage debate on the subject and has called for a meeting with the Chamber of Trade and Tourism and the Tendring Business Club to find a solution.

He said: “The announcement of Woolworths closing came as a real shock for many towns up and down the country.

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“However, Clacton needs to look forward at replacing the jobs that have been lost by looking for a new retailer to help support trade to the town as a matter of priority.

“If a new retailer is not sought then the town will feel the effects of a downturn of consumers not visiting Clacton. It is essential that bodies that represent the traders act now.”

Woolworths, which opened its first UK store in 1909, has become the biggest name on the high street to collapse due to the credit crunch and unless a last-minute buyer can be found, all of its branches will cease trading by January 5.

Clacton's town centre manager has confirmed that the owners of the current Woolworths site have been in talks with up to 10 firms about filling the premises - one of the largest retail outlets in the town.

But Joanne Rogers said that due to the poor state of the shop building and the uncertainty in the retail sector at present, the future remained unclear.

“Nobody knows exactly what the situation is going to be - we still don't know who is going out of business,” she said. “The owner of the building where Woolworths is has already been in contact with 10 retailers. That was before the Christmas break.

“It's in a prime position, so hopefully we won't have too much difficulty filling it.”

She said budget clothing firm Primark had been one name mentioned, but the company normally operated from larger sites than on offer in Clacton.

Ms Rogers said she was also “a bit worried” about the smaller retailers in the town but felt confident that most would be able to ride out the storm.

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