- Tower Hamlets
Shops in the historic Allders Mall are clinging on to life after the giant department store which houses them closed its doors on Sunday.
Firms housed in the mall running through the Allders building will stay open for business after negotiations between Croydon council and the landlord, Minerva, secured their near future.
But the fate of the 10 businesses and 40 employees given a reprieve will ultimately depend on Minerva, which is looking at proposals to remodel the 500,000 square foot building for retail use.
Virginia Coughlan, director of Coughlan’s Bakery in the mall, said: “We think it’s great that the mall will remain open, everyone is really happy. We’ve been here for 32 years. “
The bakery, which was the first business to open in the space, employs 19 people.
Croydon council told EastLondonLines: “It will look like a tunnel running through the middle of a very large building, separate from the store that closed. The Mall will remain a walk-through between North End and George Town.”
The council has pledged to keep the shop fronts looking attractive to shoppers, but stressed the uncertainty surrounding the future of the building.
What Minerva do with the site will depend on the future of the neighbouring Whitgift Shopping Centre, which is embroiled in tussle between mall operators Hammerson and Westfield.
In November 2011, the Whitgift Foundation announced that Westfield would take over the centre, but in March this year the Foundations co-owners signed an exclusive agreement with Hammerson.
Hammerson stepped up the battle on Monday September 17 by buying a 25 per cent stake in the site.
While the twin property giants duke it out, the shops huddled inside Allders’ giant carcass should be safe for the time being.
Vidhi Mohan, cabinet member for communities and econoic development, said: “This is an excellent outcome for the traders because they haven’t had to relocated, and it’s good for customers and the surrounding business. “
Mohan added that the negotiations with the landlord will continue to ensure that the mall is kept open and well maintained in the future.
Allders Department Store, built in 1862, and the third-largest of its kind in the UK, went into administration in June and finally closed its doors over the weekend after failing to find a buyer to bail it out. Around 800 people lost their jobs.
The council, together with the Allders Staff Suport Group, including local jobcentres, is planning to open a one-stop training and employment advice shop in the Whitgift Centre for staff affected by the closure. Council leader Mike Fisher said the cllosure had been a “tremendous loss for the community.”
A spokesperson for the council said it was in talks with all relevant parties to find meanwhile uses for the empty space.
Along with the closing of Allders Department Store, around 800 people have either lost their jobs or have been relocated with the help of Croydon Council. Mike Fisher, leader of Croydon Council, said: “Allder has been unable to keep up with the competition in the modern retail market.” Fisher added that the closing down of the department store is a “tremendous loss for the community.”