Traders' fears over Allders future

SMALL traders today revealed fears they will face a downturn in business if Allders shuts its store in Ipswich's Buttermarket Shopping Centre.Concerned business operators spoke of their hopes for administrators Kroll to find a buyer to run Allders' 45 stores throughout England as a going concern.

SMALL traders today revealed fears they will face a downturn in business if Allders shuts its store in Ipswich's Buttermarket Shopping Centre.

Concerned business operators spoke of their hopes for administrators Kroll to find a buyer to run Allders' 45 stores throughout England as a going concern.

But they warned closure of the store could hit their businesses by as much as 40 per cent.

Nello Staiano, manager of Cafe Giardino directly opposite the Allders main entrance in the Buttermarket, said: "It's going to be a huge impact."

He added: "I'm here facing Allders all day so I see the people going in and out.

"It doesn't work like Debenhams, the amount of business is nowhere near that, but it still brings in people throughout the day."

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Allders was placed into administration last Wednesday after attempts to sell it failed, raising fears among staff of massive job losses across the country.

In Ipswich's Buttermarket, St Stephens Street, where Allders operates the flagship store, some believe the slide into administration could also lead to difficulties for other businesses in the complex.

"It would have a knock-on of between 30 and 40 per cent," Mr Staiano said.

"It's a little disaster."

If a buyer was not found for the chain and there was no individual offer for the Ipswich store, management of the Buttermarket would face the task of locating another big-name store to attract customers into the centre.

But Chris Thompson, owner of Hannah Jewellery a few doors from Allders, said the Buttermarket businesses were now better positioned than ever to cope with the situation.

He said with a high occupancy rate and the recent arrival of several big name outfits, such as Starbucks, and the imminent opening of a Dixon's store, the feeling in the Buttermarket was buoyant.

"Obviously it will have some effect on us," Mr Thompson said.

"(But) a positive thing is if the worst case scenario comes and Allders was to close I think everybody else is full now. To contrast that with five or six years ago I think the centre is probably in a better position to cope with it now."

While administrators attempted to find a buyer for the troubled department store chain, shoppers went about their business among the racks of clothes and perfume counters at the Ipswich branch.

Items remained on sale from a post-Christmas clearance and staff continued to man the shop floor.

The only sign of the company's problems were a few small notices advising customers of the appointment of the administrators.

Kroll have announced they intend to trade the business as a going concern while marketing it to interested parties.

The financial problems follow moves by property group Minerva in December to put the chain up for sale.

Minerva is the biggest partner in Scarlett Retail, the consortium which owns Allders.

Allders has 5,700 full and part-time staff and all have been paid to the end of January, with further wages to be paid as part of the administration.

Scarlett Retail bought the chain two years ago for £158million.

Since then it has continued to struggle to improve its position and Minerva has told investors that its share of Scarlett Retail brought losses of £22.6million last year.

Do you work at Allders? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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