Next outlet store to shut
A popular fashion store in Ashford is set to close this month after facing a huge rise in rent.
Next at the Ashford Designer Outlet, in Kimberley Way, will shut on Saturday, February 13.
A spokesman for the chain confirmed the news this week and said that they are in the process of offering “all staff currently employed at this store the opportunity to take up a role in one of our other nearby stores”.
The announcement has left some shoppers disappointed, with one loyal customer suggesting the move will sadly help turn Ashford into a “ghost town”.
She said: “It’s disgraceful. This shop is always busy, and turns over a profit. People come to the designer outlet from all over the country. More importantly there will be 40 people looking for work on February 13 if they can’t be relocated, and yet again Ashford will have another empty unit.”
Expressing her concerns, the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, emailed the retail giant’s chief executive Simon Wolfson.
In her letter she said she would be sad to see the shop go and added that the location and easy parking make it a more preferable choice than visiting Ashford’s other Next, in the County Square shopping centre.
In his reply, Mr Wolfson said the reason for the closure is due to the high increase in rent.
He said: “I am very sorry that the closure of our outlet store in Ashford is disappointing for you and I apologise that our decision will inconvenience you.
“Unfortunately the decision was precipitated by a dramatic and inexplicable increase in the rent and charges on our shop, which meant it was no longer economic for us to continue to trade in this location.
“I realise that this explanation is disappointing but hope at least it goes some way to help you understand what must (from the outside) appear an unusual decision.”
It is understood that Next were paying £17,000 annually for their unit. However this was put up to £34,000 and then proposed to increase again to £51,000. This has not been confirmed however.
What do you think? Write to Kentish Express, 34-36 North Street, Ashford, TN24 8JR or email firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Unfortunately the decision was precipitated by a dramatic and inexplicable increase in the rent’
– Next boss Simon Wolfson
Next is closing its Ashford Designer Outlet store