Home Bargains to close Berwick town centre store and relocate to retail park
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The discount retailer is closing its Marygate store on Friday ahead of a move to the Loaning Meadows Retail Park on the outskirts of town.
It took on the prime site once occupied by Woolworths in 2009 but there have been concerns about its long-term plans since it was lined up for the new retail park when planning permission was granted to the Berwick Corporation (Freemen) Trustees in August 2018.
Stephen Scott, chairman of Berwick Chamber of Trade, said: "It is clearly a blow to Berwick town centre that the Home Bargains store is closing.
"Although the news has always been expected since the opening of their new store at the new retail park was announced, the timing is poor with Wilkies closing earlier this month and with M&Co going into administration and at risk of closing.
"There are also a number of other businesses up for sale, creating uncertainty over their future. Home Bargains was an anchor store for Berwick which pulled people into the town centre.
“However, most town centres are experiencing the same challenges as Berwick and it is crucial that we adapt and create a new vision which will draw in local people and visitors alike and provide a new range of retail, service and hospitality businesses that differentiate themselves from those on a typical retail park.
"The investments in the pipeline, such as the Maltings and Barracks redevelopment, and the Creative and Cultural Zone, will all be helpful catalysts for this change. The challenge will be in the interim period before these investments materialise. "
Cllr Catherine Seymour, member for Berwick North on Northumberland County Council, added: “Home Bargains moving out of its premises in our town centre along with other national retailers to the retail park is a growing threat to our traditional high street and disappointing for local shoppers.
“Let's hope another retailer will take on this empty space.”
She added: “In this day and age, along with other pressures, shops are having to compete with retail parks and internet shopping.
"This has added to the decline and empty shops in our towns that the public continue to wail about, so let's support and keep our local shops as much as we can."
The 30,000 sq ft store will include a garden centre, bakery and an extensive chilled and frozen section and will generate around 50 jobs.
A Home Bargains spokesperson said: “Following a long and successful period of time in our current store in Berwick, we have taken the exciting opportunity to move into a larger unit that is almost three times the size of the current store.
"The larger premises will allow us to showcase our full range of Top Brands at Bottom Prices including an extensive range of chilled, fresh and frozen products and a garden centre.
“Our current store will be closing on the evening of Friday, February 3 and the new store will open at 8am on Saturday, February 4. We look forward to welcoming our current customers as well as new customers in the area to our fantastic new store.”