THE landlord of a shopping complex in Darlington partly-blamed for the closure of a coffee shop has defended itself, suggesting businesses are thriving despite high street 'challenges'.

Earlier this month, national coffee shop chain Mangobean announced the permanent closure of its premises in the DL1 shopping complex in Darlington town centre.

Shane Saunders, who created a network of stores to compete with Costa Coffee and Starbucks several years ago, blamed the 'failure' of the store on a lack of footfall in that part of the town.

The Northern Echo: The Darlington DL1 store when it was trading The Darlington DL1 store when it was trading

When speaking to The Northern Echo, Mr Saunders said the firm had been "sold a promise" that the opening of the adjacent five-storey 'Feethams House' office block would generate substantial income.

But after it became clear the opening of the office block had been delayed, Mr Saunders said the firm had no option but to close its Darlington shop citing a lack of trade three years after opening in 2016.

He said: "Darlington was one of our first-generation coffee shops for Mangobean – we were promised by the landlord that offices across the road would be completed.

The Northern Echo:

“Nobody was coming in, in the last six months there was nothing we could do. We bought into the landlord’s vision, it was not what it was promised – if the offices had opened it would have generated so much income.”

Mr Saunders, who said Mangobean had "tried everything" to keep the store open, previously said the Mangobean brand remained popular across its network of stores.

'Investment has shown a positive effect on tenants'

But responding to Mr Saunder's claims on Thursday, the DL1 landlord said: "The Mangobean coffee shop has unfortunately recently ceased to operate at DL1 in Darlington.  

The Northern Echo:

"The Feethams House Office development and the associated build timelines are out of the control of the DL1 landlord. 

"Significant investment by the landlord has been made at DL1 with a range of physical and brand developments in 2019, along with an enhanced marketing strategy that has shown a positive effect on existing tenants trade, in an extremely challenging high street market. 

"Also, to note following the investment by the Landlord, Tomahawk restaurant has opened its doors and to date is proving a real hit with the people of Darlington and further afield."

'Timing of development should not affect a business'

At the time, Ian Williams, Darlington Borough Council’s Director of Economic Growth, said: “It’s always sad when a private business fails, and we wish things had worked out differently for Mangobean.

"However, businesses can fail for lots of reasons – the timing of a nearby development should not affect whether a business stands or falls.”