‘It’s not as bad as you think’ says Hemel shopping centre boss

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WHILE retailers go into administration or move out of a shopping centre, its director insists that things are not as bad as they may seem.

Marlowes Shopping Centre director Vince Williams gave a positive report at Thursday night’s Town Centre Partnership meeting, despite four more stores in the centre announcing closure.

Marlowes Perfumery, Stead and Simpson, Clinton Cards and Warren James have all been telling customers that they are closing down.

But Vince Williams said he wasn’t worried because the centre was bucking the national trend with sales up by 0.1 per cent year on year for the month of April compared to a nationwide fall of 3.3 per cent.

The perfumery blames high rents at the shopping centre for its lack of profits and said other centres charge half the amount.

Staff member Jan Silver said: “We were asked to sign a 10-year lease but in this day and age no-one can sign on for that long and to be honest Hemel Hempstead has changed since we opened more than 15 years ago.

“Our customers moan about the amount of pound shops that open and the lack of variety.”

Mr Williams said that The Marlowes does everything it can to help struggling retailers and cited high business rates in comparison to rents as one of the main bugbears.

He denied that the mall is becoming a ghost town of empty units, stating only seven of its 75 units were empty and many of those were due to national stores going into administration. He said: “Some stores are still with the administrators so there is little we can do about them until they are sorted out legally, but others will be used as pop up shops and have vinyl fronts to give the impression that the place is busy.”