Felixstowe looks to ride out recession

TRADERS in Felixstowe are to have a brainstorming session to come up with ideas to boost business during the economic downturn.There has been good news and bad in the past few weeks for the resort's town centre but store owners accept Hamilton Road will not be completely immune from the recession.

TRADERS in Felixstowe are to have a brainstorming session to come up with ideas to boost business during the economic downturn.

There has been good news and bad in the past few weeks for the resort's town centre but store owners accept Hamilton Road will not be completely immune from the recession.

Fears over its Marks and Spencer - believed to be the smallest in the country - were allayed today after the store giant said Felixstowe's shop was safe.

Along with the Simply Food stores which would be closing - including the one in Sudbury with the loss of 29 jobs - the only chain stores shutting up shop would be in Croydon and Woking.

Woolworths closure with the loss of 30 jobs has been the biggest blow to Felixstowe so far.

Chairman of the chamber of trade and commerce Peter Dawes said: “I think we will be slightly immune but probably not totally immune from the worst of the crisis.

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“What we don't want to see is many empty shops in the prime shopping area of Hamilton Road because that would give a bad impression to shoppers, local people and visitors.

“We all need to work together to ensure Felixstowe's shopping centre remains vibrant.

“Losing Woolworths has been a big blow and it has been absolutely horrendous for people who have lost their jobs.

“We have not heard anything yet about what might happen to the shop.”

One concern of traders in the town centre is the impact of a planned new retail park near the port, with Next as the anchor store, though no start date has been announced yet.

Mr Dawes said chamber members would meet on January 19 to look at a new initiative to promote the town.

“It will be a bit of a brainstorming session and hopefully we will have lots of ideas to promote the town and help the shops during these challenging times,” he said.

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Panel:

CHANGES are already happening in Felixstowe town centre as the recession bites.

Along with Woolworths' closure, Froffee Coffee and hair salon Ego have closed.

Funfair owner Charles Manning has been given permission to use Ego's premises as an over 18s arcade with slot machines.

Curtains and bedding store Rosebys has been sold to a subsidiary of Edinburgh Woollen Mill and is set to continue, but Cardfair faces an uncertain future with its owners Celebration Holdings Group in administration and a buyer being sought.

Photo developing shop Klick has been saved after the company was bought by shoe repair and key cutting chain Timpson, which has pledged to keep the photo business.

There is uncertainty though over Tchibo, the German coffee and variety retailer, which is reviewing its UK business and considering closing all of its 50 stores.

Tchibo started expanding in Britain seven years ago. Last year the company said it would no longer make major investments in the country and would close its activities in France and the Netherlands and instead concentrate on eastern Europe.