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Next to close its store at Shrewsbury's Pride Hill Shopping Centre

By Dominic Robertson | Shrewsbury | Business | Published:

Next is to become the latest well-known retailer to close its town centre store in Shrewsbury.

The high street giant has confirmed the store, which operates over two floors in the town’s Pride Hill Shopping Centre, will close in September. Staff have been notified.

The retailer did not give the reasons for the closure, but said its other Shrewsbury store, which opened on Meole Brace Retail Park in 2014, continues to trade well.

It is a further blow to the town centre which saw its iconic House of Fraser store close last year – with the landmark building still lying empty. New Look Mens, Ann Summers, Maplin, Argos, Burger King and McDonald’s are among some of the other big name retailers to close their doors in recent years.

The loss of Next is also a blow to Shropshire Council which bought the Pride Hill and Darwin shopping centres and the lease of the Riverside Shopping Centre for £51 million last year.

The authority’s deputy leader Councillor Steve Charmley said: “We are, of course, disappointed to lose the store from the town centre as their lease expires in September and we understand that this is a difficult time for the staff involved. We will ensure they are aware of the support and advice available to them, should any be required.

“Our primary objective in purchasing the shopping centres was to enable the economic growth and regeneration of the town centre, and this remains the case.”

Shoppers have spoken of their disappointment at the closure and said Next was making a mistake by pulling out of the town centre.

Gaynor Stephens, from Newtown, said: “It really is terrible news. Not everybody is able to get out to the retail park.”

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Alison Jarvis, who runs a sandwich shop in the centre of Shrewsbury, said: “It is a real shame. When I go clothes shopping I go there, so to lose it from the town centre is really bad news, particularly for that shopping centre.”

Anchor store

Claire Duckett, from Oswestry, said. “I always pop in to Next to see what new stock they have whenever I am in Shrewsbury. I don’t like the store on the retail park, they don’t have as many nice things as they do here in town.”

Jennifer Wadhams, who runs a boutique in Shrewsbury, said: "The shop here in the Pride Hill is a big draw for people. The closure is going to hurt small businesses throughout the town centre. It is an anchor store that brings in people, particularly to that shopping centre."

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Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "It's always sad to see a name go from the high street.

"However, it is not a big surprise that they have decided to do that given their presence on the retail park.

"This is another example of where an out-of-town retail park is drawing business away from the high street and the impact will be felt elsewhere.

"Their highly strong website activity means they are reducing commitment to physical properties.

"I hope they can find a new incumbent quickly."

A Next spokeswoman said: “I can confirm the store is closing in September, and staff have been made aware. We already have a store in Shrewsbury at Meole Brace and this continues to be a good trading store for us.”

In March, Next reported that annual sales and profits at its high street stores continued their fall of recent years, while its online business continued to grow.

Sales in Next's stores fell nearly eight per cent last year to £1.95 billion, while online sales rose by 14.7 per cent to £1.92 billion.

It said online was a "long-term threat" to its high street business, but a "larger opportunity" for the group.

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