Allders to close - 250 jobs to go
TWO hundred and fifty workers at Allders in Ipswich are set to lose their jobs following today's confirmation that the store is to close.The department store in the Buttermarket centre is one of ten stores to close after the collapse of the department store chain last month.
TWO hundred and fifty workers at Allders in Ipswich are set to lose their jobs following today's confirmation that the store is to close.
The department store in the Buttermarket centre is one of ten stores to close after the collapse of the department store chain last month.
The Ipswich staff were said to have been told of the store's demise and a closing down sale is now under way.
Any hopes it could remain open were quashed by a consortium made up of Debenhams, BHS and Primark which has acquired around 30 Allders stores throughout the country.
Because Ipswich has all of these stores an Allders store would not be needed.
And if the store cannot be leased out to another retailer part of it may have to become flats, it can be revealed.
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Colin Roberts, manager of the Buttermarket Centre in Ipswich said negotiations are now under way to try and lease the store to another client.
He said: "The store manager and the staff of Allders were officially told there were ten stores within the group that had no interest shown in them.
"We have been talking to a number of parties about what can be done with the 120,000 square feet."
Allders is by far the largest store in the Buttermarket Centre, and Mr Roberts said its departure left the shopping centre with an "interesting dilemma."
He said: "There are only a few companies which have large department stores who want a space as large as that.
"There's John Lewis, which we are talking to, but it's early days and Ipswich hasn't really figured on their radar.
"When the Buttermarket centre was first built the developers tried to get House of Fraser interested – they weren't then and they don't seem any more interested in Ipswich now."
He said it might be necessary to split up the department store space.
He said: "We might have to put in new escalators and use the space for more than one tenant.
"There are retailers that want more space in Ipswich, like Next and H&M, but they don't want 120,000 square feet – although they might want a 60,000 square foot unit."
Allders extends over four floors – and Mr Roberts warned that the top floor might not be able to remain in use for retail.
He said: "We may have to look at other solutions there – like converting it into flats."
Administrators Kroll, which took control of Allders late last month, confirmed it was in talks with buyers interested in 35 of the 45 outlets.
But it said the remaining ten stores, which employ around 600 to 700 staff, generated limited interest including Ipswich in Suffolk and Chelmsford and Romford in Essex.
Kroll said in statement: "Whilst we had hoped to secure a going concern sale for the entire business this has not been possible.''
A spokesman would not comment on speculation that retailers Debenhams, BHS and Primark were in advanced talks to buy more than 25 of the stores between them.
But Mr Roberts said what had sealed the Ipswich store's fate was the fact that the buyers of Allders were already well represented in the town.
"What is happening is that Debenhams, BHS, and Primark have made a bid for the stores and they are going to carve them up between them – but in Ipswich all three of those stores are very well represented so none of them needs another massive store."
Allders is expected to close by the end of the March – although it could be sooner.
The news has come as a blow to the commercial heart of Ipswich – although borough council chief executive James Hehir insisted it did not mean there was anything wrong with the town.
He said: "This is a decision that is not about Ipswich, it's a national situation. "There are still retailers who are keen to move into the town if the location and the property is right."