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Is closure of Burton/Dorothy Perkins a loss for Ipswich town centre?

PUBLISHED: 19:30 20 February 2020 | UPDATED: 06:57 21 February 2020

The former Burton/Dorothy Perkins store closed in early February. Picture: PAUL GEATER

The former Burton/Dorothy Perkins store closed in early February. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Ipswich council’s investment arm has been accused of damaging the town centre by allowing a “money-grabbing” deal that has seen Burton and Dorothy Perkins leave their store on the Cornhill.

Conservative councillor Eddy Phillips. Picture: DAVID GARRADConservative councillor Eddy Phillips. Picture: DAVID GARRAD

The claim came from opposition finance spokesman Eddy Phillips during this week's budget debate at the borough - but brought an accusation of hypocrisy from the Labour administration, because the Conservatives had called on the council to maximise its assets.

In his Budget speech, Mr Phillips said: "Surely we want good quality national chains in our town centre as part of a wide spectrum of retail outlets? Clearly not, and Labour are putting their money-grabbing tactics over the need for a quality town centre.

"The loss of this store (Burton/Dorothy Perkins), despite it being replaced by a shoe shop, will be a serious detriment to our town when we are trying to get more retailers in."

The store is owned by Ipswich Borough Assets, the council-owned company which owns property to provide an investment income.

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In November last year it announced that Burton and Dorothy Perkins would be moving out. Their owners, Sir Philip Green's Arcadia Group, had secured a substantial rent reduction as part of a creditors' voluntary arrangement (CVA) - but that did mean a break-clause was inserted into the lease.

German shoe retailer Deichmann offered to take the store on the original rental and is expected to start trading later in the year.

Ipswich Borough Assets chairman Colin Kreidewolf, who is also responsible for its economic development policy, told the meeting that he found the Conservatives' position strange because they were always saying that the borough should maximise its return on assets.

"That's exactly what we are doing here - we're ensuring that we get the full rental, not a reduced amount that we were getting from the current tenants.

Dorothy Perkins and Burton clothes are still available in Ipswich town centre at concessions in other stores. At the time the change was announced by Ipswich Borough Assets, they said there were also concerns about the long-term future of Arcadia as a whole and this was a way of ensuring the store remained occupied on one of the most important sites in the town.

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