Boston’s high street is facing a difficult start to 2013, as two major national chains have gone into administration in the space of just one week.
Photography company Jessops, which had a store in Strait Bargate, closed its doors for the last time on Friday, after it entered the process, with the loss of five jobs, and yesterday (Tuesday) music company HMV announced it was planning to appoint administrators, putting thousands of jobs at risk around the UK.
Poor trading conditions have been blamed for their decline – the same problem which has blighted many other town centre stores forced to close in recent months, including Clinton Cards, Game, Julian Graves and Millets.
“It’s bad news,” said Boston BID manager Niall Armstrong. “We have seen the vacancy rates rise and we are not getting new companies moving in. It’s symptomatic of the economy,” he told The Standard.
Mr Armstrong added that BID was trying to promote the town in the best possible way, to encourage businesses to set up in the town. Meanwhile, Boston Borough Council’s town centre supremo Coun Derek Richmond said the authority was working to push the town’s rich history to bring visitors to the area so they can use local businesses.
He added: “I share people’s concerns about shop closures in Boston. It’s very sad and it seems to be one after another. Let’s hope we can keep the shops we have now.”
The major shopping areas of Boston are now littered with empty premises. Several shops in Pescod Square – which is home to the beleagured HMV – have been left empty over the past 12 months, after several companies were forced to shut stores.
But shopping centre manager Andy Pottle said he was hopeful the situation would improve. He said: “Obviously we are in tough times. It’s very difficult for retailers at the moment. Conditions are such that companies are struggling. With regards to empty shops we are working hard to fill these and there has been some interest. “
He added that HMV had only announced it was going into administration, and there was hope it could yet be saved from closure in the same way as chains including Peacocks and The Officers Club.
Yesterday, HMV bosses said they would be appointing Deloitte to lead the administration process, and the fate of the company remained uncertain.
An official statement from the company said: “The board regrets to announce that it has been unable to reach a position where it feels able to continue to trade outside of insolvency protection, and in the circumstances therefore intends to file notice to appoint administrators to the Company and certain of its subsidiaries with immediate effect. The directors of the company understand that it is the intention of the administrators, once appointed, to continue to trade whilst they seek a purchaser for the business.”