HELP IS AT HAND - Support for Wheatsheaf traders

9 Dec 2020 02:51
Published by: Scott Callan

EFFORTS are underway to support businesses in the Wheatsheaf shopping centre after the building's owners announced it would not be reopening after the national lockdown.

The MCR Property Group announced the shopping centre's closure, as the high street continues to suffer from the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A statement on the centre's website says: "Thanks for your support over the last 30 years, the centre is now permanently closed."

Rochdale council has now joined forces with the Rochdale Development Agency (RDA) and Rochdale Business Improvement District (BID) to support the affected businesses and help secure their livelihoods wherever possible.

Businesses will be able to claim a council grant to help them fit out any new unit they find, with financial support also available to help store stock in the meantime.

Council leader Allen Brett said: "We're sorry that MCR Property Group were not able to make the Wheatsheaf shopping centre work.

"Changing shopping habits have been impacting the high street for some time and now Covid-19 has hit, it's had a truly devastating impact, as news of the collapse of the Arcadia Group also highlights.

"We know that these factors, and other problems like high businesses rates, are beyond our control and there's a limit to what we can do as a local authority.

"But we want to support local businesses and jobs as much as we're able to. This grant funding will hopefully make it easier for these businesses to find new premises and continue to trade and contribute to our local economy, as they have done for so many years."

Businesses which front onto Yorkshire Street (The British Heart Foundation, Fulton Foods, Greenwoods Menswear, H&T Pawnbrokers and Craze) will remain trading in their current location and Modern Nails has already relocated to 32 Yorkshire Street. But the rest will need to find a new home if they are to continue trading.

While Peacocks has gone into administration and New Look and Select are in Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs), the council, RDA and BID have made contact with the other businesses to offer them the financial support.

They are also looking to help the businesses find alternative premises by brokering conversations with building owners.

The centre had to close its doors during the two national lockdowns because its occupiers were all classed as non-essential retail.

Charles Denby, at MCR Property Group, said: "Nationwide we continue to see a large number of retailers experiencing serious trading difficulties, and more are resorting to insolvency procedures to cut their rent bills.

"This year has been a surreal, once in a generation experience that will not be forgotten, with Covid directly accelerating the decline of high street retail and the move to online.

"When the change in shopping habits collides with reduced income, an excess of space, and cost structures that are simply no longer realistic, landlords have to take action.

"We understand the impact the closure of the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre will have on our tenants and will assist where possible through this difficult time."


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