What will re­place Wool­worths?

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Opinion -

NEWS that clo­sure is hang­ing over the Wool­worths stores in Ash­ford and Ten­ter­den is in­deed sad. The stores have been an in­te­gral part of the shop­ping scene in the high streets of both towns for al­most as long as any­one can re­mem­ber and their demise, if it hap­pens, will be a real blow. Not only is there the very real worry that both shops could shut if no buyer for Wool­worths emerges but there’s also the dilemma of who, in a re­ces­sion, is likely to want to take over the premises. The thought of empty stores in such key lo­ca­tions is a wor­ry­ing one. At­tempts to find a buyer for the 815-store Wool­worths chain have so far drawn a blank and the stores in Ash­ford and Ten­ter­den both started “clos­ing down” sales last week. While shop­pers were happy to snap up some bar­gains, many of them will have done so with a tinge of sad­ness that such a well-es­tab­lished name could soon dis­ap­pear. The threat to Wool­worths is con­fir­ma­tion that the re­ces­sion is now ac­tu­ally beginning to re­ally bite in the bor­ough. And last week when the coun­cil’s ex­ec­u­tive ex­am­ined its bud­getary op­tions for the next two years, in or­der to pre­vent a big rise in coun­cil tax, it was forced to con­sider some ma­jor cuts. We wel­come the ex­ec­u­tive’s pledge that ev­ery­thing will be done to pro­tect front­line ser­vices, but some cut­backs will un­doubt­edly hit the wider com­mu­nity. The hope is, of course, that a com­pet­ing re­tailer will ei­ther take over Wool­worths or at least the stores in the best lo­ca­tions – hope­fully in­clud­ing Ash­ford and Ten­ter­den. As 2008 draws to a close it’s wor­ry­ing that the dark days of re­ces­sion now loom large. Let’s hope is that it will be short-lived and that the shoots of re­cov­ery are seen in 2009.

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