AROUND a quarter of the traders forced out of the former InShops centre in Consett town centre have been re-housed at a neighbouring shopping arcade.
Five businesses from the now empty Middle Street complex will be operating from the Derwent Centre, 100 yards away, from next week.
Liquidators took over the running of the national chain last week leaving around 20 small traders without a base.
Meanwhile legal discussions are rumbling on between the owners of the former InShops building and supermarket giant Morrison’s, who are thought to be responsible for the lease.
Claire Lambert, of Gateshead-based Thrower Stone Group, which manage the Derwent Centre, said: “Because of the credit crunch there three large units empty at the Derwent Centre.
“We are converting one unit into three and they are all going to have their own shop front and their own entrance. The traders are they are all over the moon. “Everything has been signed, sealed and delivered.
The newsagent has already moved with clothes and bed linen trader Ashaq Hussain Valerie Hawdon, who runs The Luggage Company, John Surtees, who fixes watches and sells jewellery, and a tattooist operating from Monday.
Ms Lambert said: “We do have large unit upstairs left that used to be a gym. All of the ones downstairs are full now.
“We want the Derwent Centre back up and running and in the next 12 months we are looking to revamp it and get it redecorated. We want it be a busy little arcade.”
The former InShops building is owned by Serenity, a London-based property company and leased it in 1972 to Argyll Stores on a 99-year contract.
Robert Stone, of Fishman, Brand, Stone, the solicitors acting for Serenity said business acquisitions by Morrison’s meant it was now responsible for honouring the lease.
Mr Stone said: “The liquidators solicitors have absolved themselves of the lease and are absolving themselves of any responsibility for the lease.
“We say it is still in place and are in touch with lawyers at Morrison’s discussing the matter.”
A spokesman for Morrisons, which opened a store in the town in 2012, described the situation as a ‘complicated legal matter’. She said: “We understand that this is a difficult situation for retailers and shoppers and we are making every effort to reach a solution.”