Clo­sure of Next will ‘play part in turn­ing Ash­ford into ghost town’

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Designer Outlet Changes - By Rachael Woods

Shop­pers had their last chance to bag a bar­gain as fash­ion store Next shut its doors for the fi­nal time.

Satur­day was the last day of trad­ing at the branch in the Ash­ford De­signer Out­let, Kim­ber­ley Way, af­ter the com­pany an­nounced it was pulling out due to a huge rent in­crease.

The an­nounce­ment was met with dis­may from some of the store’s many fans with one cus­tomer, who asked not to be named, sug­gest­ing the clo­sure would play a part in turn­ing 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.”

The woman even emailed the re­tailer’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Si­mon Wolf­son, to com­plain, re­ceiv­ing a re­ply that the rent rise had forced the de­ci­sion.

He said: “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.”

It’s un­der­stood that an ini­tial an­nual rent of £17,000, had risen to £34,000, with an in­crease to £51,000 pro­posed, al­though this is yet to be con­firmed.

A spokesman for McArthurGlen said it would be work­ing with the retail gi­ant to help staff find new roles.

Pic­ture: Re­becca Hol­l­i­day FM4217502

Next store at Ash­ford De­signer Out­let closed its doors for the last time on Satur­day

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