Spalding’s town centre manager has spoken out in support of Springfields Outlet Shopping Centre after rumours top brands are being driven out because of rising rents and refit demands.
Dennis Hannant, who has often suggested the town centre should do more to benefit from the ‘Springfields effect’, was called on at the request of a reader.
We are successful in attracting retail brands that other market towns would give their right arm for and do our utmost to deliver the best possible customer shopping and leisure experienceSimon Stone, retail director at Springfields
Rosie Knight told the Free Press she had heard the management at the shopping centre “is putting up rent and asking some (all?) shop owners to update their premises because they are not modern enough”.
She said: “The Nike footwear shop is the latest victim and the Edinburgh Woollen Mill is to vacate imminently. This must be such a stressful situation to be in.”
However, Mr Hannant said: “Like all businesses that wish to remain successful, Springfields must constantly review and update its offer to ensure it does not become dated.
“It is definitely in the town’s interest that Springfields Outlet Shopping Centre is a successful retail outlet and continues to attract visitors to Spalding and to employ local people.
“New brands and improved facilities will achieve this and whilst Springfields are maintaining a yearly visitor rate of two million plus, this gives us the opportunity to attract some of these into the town centre.”
Simon Stone, retail director at Springfields, said: “The management team at Springfields do their very best for Spalding and the South Holland district, by running a shopping outlet with industry leading standards.
“We are not in control of how departing retailers inform their staff that they are vacating. This can sometimes lead to misinformed rumours.
“Outlets change their line-up on a regular basis as customers expect to see new retailers.
“We are delighted to announce that not only is the new-look Garden Centre with new plush restaurant opening this week and Next coming to Spalding, but Craghoppers, Dare 2B, Regatta and fashion outlet Avendita are also opening too before the end of the year.
“This year we have won the Rolls-Royce International Property Awards for ‘Best International Commercial Landscape Architecture’ and for the fifth year running, Gold at the East Midlands in Bloom contest.
“We are successful in attracting retail brands that other market towns would give their right arm for and do our utmost to deliver the best possible customer shopping and leisure experience.”
However, Rosie remains unconvinced. She said: “It’s not modernisation that brings shoppers in, it’s the PAPA (products, atmosphere, price and accessibility). The market stallholders certainly aren’t modern, but the public likes them just the way they are – perfect PAPA.
“One thing I hope the town centre manager will achieve is to stop shops from sticking pictures on the frontage to keep passers-by from looking in – it gives the impression that they have something sinister to hide and also looks very tacky.
“It seems to be one rule for some and another rule for others.
“Unfortunately, the real demise of town centres up and down the country is due to the cheap prices online, which are often from companies and individuals who pay little or no tax – but that’s another story.”
l ‘A Night at the Movies Firework Spectacular’ takes place at Springfields on November 5, starting at 6pm. The Christmas lights will be switched on tonight (Thursday, October 29) from 6-9pm.