Burnley town centre shops’ closure threats

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TWO big-name town centre stores in Burnley are facing the threat of closure.

Chocolate makers Thorntons has announced it will be closing stores as the credit crunch continues to hit footfall in the High Street, while retail chain TJ Hughes has called in the administrators.

Should the Burnley outlets close, it would come as a major blow to Burnley’s town centre economy which has been struck by the loss of several “big name” chains in the last decade.

In further worrying news, it has been reported Carpetright, Comet, HMV and Clinton Cards – all of which have outlets in Burnley – are also facing difficulties.

Brian Hobbs, president of Burnley and District Chamber of Trade, said: “The whole retail situation is very fragile but it’s out of our control. We have just got to manage it as best we can and keep what retail we have alive and well.

“People are buying less non-essentials. In Burnley we have to try to stay vibrant, attract people into the town and support local businesses.”

Carpetright could close up to 50 shops when their leases run out if it cannot get the rents reduced.

Clinton Cards is thought to be examining a radical restructuring which could see management cutting the number of shops, while HMV, which only recently opened a large store in Burnley, has struggled to cope with falling sales of CDs and DVDs as more consumers shop online and supermarkets compete for business.

Charter Walk Shopping Centre manager Mr Chris Gribben said: “I can’t comment fully on this situation as obviously it is very early days and we simply don’t know.

“I hope the Burnley stores can survive and I would be very disappointed for the staff if this were not the case.”

Although the businesses have yet to decide which of their outlets will go, there is a real chance the Burnley ones in the town centre could face the axe.

If so, they would follow Mothercare, Woolworths, Focus, MVC and Blockbuster as large stores to close their Burnley outlets in recent years.