Saved Chester-le-Street shopping centre has bright future

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

A THREATENED shopping centre has a bright future under a new name after it was saved from closure, its manager predicts.

InShops in Chester-le-Street remains open despite the collapse of the Liverpool-based firm that ran it and a string of other centres across the country.

The centre has been taken on by the property company that owns the building, near the post office in the town’s Front Street - saving 16 traders from having to try to find to new premises.

Centre manager Guy Starling was previously manager of the Inshops at Consett and Bishop Auckland and was taken on in Chester-le-Street when those centres closed.

He said: “The mood was really bad when the traders got their notice they didn’t know where they were going to go. Some of them didn’t get shops.”

But he said Chester-le-Street had a bright future: “We are staying open. We are going to have a new name, which we haven’t decided on yet. We are going to keep it going as it is .

“We are nearly full, we have got a couple of units empty, so it is looking good. It is a good centre.”

Bill Freeman, who runs a body piercing business, said that when Inshops said the traders would have to leave “Everybody was gutted,everybody was going to lose trade.

“The fact that it is staying open has given a big boost to morale .

“Once upon a time you couldn’t move in here. Hopefully we’ll get it back up there again.”

Mr Freeman said trade had fallen in the days when Inshops was threatened with closure but now everybody was working to attract customers. He added that an empty shop on the opposite side of the road was said to be re-opening as a grocery store, which could give a boost to the area.

John Morris has moved his mobile phone repair business from the now-closed Consett Inshops to the Chester-le-Street centre.

Mr Morris, who lives in Chester-le-Street, said he had been at Consett for 12 years, and that it had been a worrying time when the closure was announced.

But he added that he was looking forward to doing well in his new location as were other centre traders.

Philip Wragg, of surveyors Philip Wragg and Partners, who are managing the centre for owners Swiftbury, said: “This is a good new story”.

The centre is open Mondays to Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.

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