Troubled food court could shut for review

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THE FOOD court at Spalding’s Red Lion Quarter may have to shut while bosses carry out a review to see how they can boost its fortunes.

THE FOOD court at Spalding’s Red Lion Quarter may have to shut while bosses carry out a review to see how they can boost its fortunes.

Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services (NWES) have been brought in to run the key town centre development and is now looking at ways to stop the food court losing money.

The shop, which was designed to showcase the best of local produce, had its hours cut from 8am-6pm to 9am-5pm in July and some staff lost their jobs as eight of the 17 staff at the centre as a whole were made redundant.

Bosses now say they are looking at what is sold in the shop to try to pick products that would sell better – a process that might need it to close while they look at how to boost business.

NWES marketing manager Jodene Barron said: “When NWES took on the management of the Quarter there was no set procedure in place for ordering produce from suppliers. As a result the goods have not necessarily matched the customer needs.

“Therefore all ordering of future stock is to be carried out by the interim management so that customer need can be established, monitored and met.

“The long-term strategic plan is to review stock, observe consumer demand and understand purchasing habits.

“It may be necessary to close the Food Court in the future to allow us to carry out such a review. This would then allow us to deliver a renewed retail plan for the business.

“In the meantime there are no immediate plans for it to close. Furthermore the Quarter is not going through any redundancy process at present.”

NWES, a not-for-profit outfit which is running the centre on an interim basis, says it is making “really good progress” towards making the building a success in the long term.

Jodene added: “The original plans for the Red Lion Quarter were drawn up during a time of economic boom. Since then the retail trade has significantly declined.

“We are therefore looking at what demand there is from the public and are drawing up some options for the council to consider. We will be focusing during the coming months on formulating a proposal that will allow the Food Court to become a thriving food retail centre.”