Wheatsheaf tenants dealt devastating news at critical trading period
Date published: 20 November 2020
Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre
With just weeks until Christmas and an already reduced trading period because of the national lockdown, the shock announcement that the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre will remain closed after 2 December has delivered several heavy blows to its traders.
The centre closed during the first lockdown, re-opened in June and then closed again in November because its occupiers are all classed as non-essential retail.
The centre is home to over 15 independent retailers and chain stores, as well as housing offices for Tony Lloyd MP and the Rochdale BID.
The five stores facing onto Yorkshire Street - Fulton Foods, GW Menswear, British Heart Foundation, Craze and H&T Pawnbrokers - will be able to remain open.
Russell’s Café has confirmed it will reopen after finding suitable premises, as will Tony Lloyd’s office. Beauty Zone and Fizz Bomb are also looking for alternative premises.
The Rochdale BID says it is working to find new homes for all the Wheatsheaf’s tenants.
Sageer Ali Rashid, who runs Beauty Zone, said: “They should have let us stay over Christmas and given us three months’ notice. It’s been dealt with badly and there’s now 120 jobs at stake.
“We all have our Christmas stock; what are we going to do with it? If we had three months’ notice, we would have had more money and time, less stock and less of a headache.
“The centre manager is a great guy who has been trying to help. We’re all in it together, retail, security, cleaners and management, just not the owners.”
Fizz Bomb, which sells a range of Bomb cosmetics and Yankee Candles, moved into the Wheatsheaf from Drake Street last year. It was opened by Mark and Lauren Jones on the back of their now-closed Yankee Heaven store in Littleborough centre.
In a Facebook video, Mark said: “The last 12 hours have shocked us beyond belief. It’s inhumane and disgusting. Lauren was in bits and I was just shocked to be honest. We weren’t expecting this.
“We’ve been asked to leave by 31 December. This year has been a struggle on a lot of levels, but we’ll try to get another shop. We’re a small family-run business which believes in the ethos that the customer comes first.
“It’s not over for us, it’s Christmas in six weeks and retail is tough at the minute, but we know what we sell is what this town needs, We will try and get another shop somewhere in town, but this will take time and effort. In the meantime, stay safe, spend local if you can, it means the world to a small business owner.”
The husband and wife team say they have been offered storage space for Fizz Bomb’s stock, which will allow them to offer a click-and-collect service alongside delivery.
Mark added: “If you cannot purchase, place an order, just do the best thing you can do for any small family-run business, tell your friends and shout out how good we are and the quality items we sell, leave a review, share our deals and products, recommend us, talk about how good we are and the amazing products we sell.
“We will continue to do delivers all way to the end both during the days and evenings. We are doing click and collect and if you can make it, please can consider this option as it makes more time for us to deliver.
“Thank you from me and Lauren.”
Fizz Bomb’s products can be viewed on Facebook, and also ordered online:
Matthew Lopez, who runs the Celebrity SK Hair Salon in the unit which was formerly the Forget Me Not hospice charity shop, only moved in this summer after viewing space in February.
He says he spent £60k refurbishing the unit before opening, and thinks he will recoup around half of this.
He added: “I’m more worried about the other traders than myself. I only signed for two years and have a one year ‘get out’ clause.”
Several of the traders are understood to be seeking legal advice.
BID Manager Paul Ambrose said: "The centre closing is a loss and I wish to express my concern at the news and the impact this will have for the tenants, workforce and regular shoppers to the centre.
“I’m working closely with the Wheatsheaf Manager so we can help the businesses source any available funding and get them re-opening as soon as possible in new locations.
“Whilst it is disappointing that the centre is closing it must be acknowledged that the site offers a fantastic opportunity to deliver a modern neighbourhood at the heart of Rochdale which offers to place to live, work, create and innovate in.
“I look forward to working in close collaboration with MCR Property Group to help bring forward a major transformative development that assists with the ongoing evolution of the town centre.”
Councillor Peter Winkler has today (Friday 20 November) written to the Chief Executive and Leader of Rochdale Council.
He said: “I have written asking that we do everything possible for the people who are affected by this closure, especially those independent businesses who need to be running click and collect and getting in a few weeks trade before Christmas. I have asked that the council look at other options like using the old Marks & Spencer building to provide temporary space for businesses who need it.”
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