Shops forced to move as sale of Bury St Edmunds centre progresses
A Bury St Edmunds shopping centre, which has been in administration for almost three years, is in the process of being sold.
Cornhill Walk tenants have been given notice and are expected to vacate their shop premises by December 28.
But both Buy the Light and Angeli Beauty Point are planning to reopen elsewhere in the town centre.
It is not yet known who the buyer is or what their plans are for the centre’s future, but business leaders are hopeful it will remain in retail use.
Lesley Bancroft, of Buy the Light, said the last few years had been tricky because the administrators had left available units empty.
“I understand it’s in the throws of being sold and so things will start to happen here,” she said, adding that she hoped the new owner would help ‘bring it back to life’.
For Ambika Bissessur, who started Angeli in the Cornhill mall about two years ago, moving into one of the centre’s retail units 12 months later, the short notice period has come as a shock.
Nevertheless she is determined to find somewhere else within the town to continue her business.
“It’s a big challenge for me to take my customers elsewhere because beauty is very risky, there’s a lot of competition,” she said. “But I’m still having positive thoughts, I’m going to do it.”
Meanwhile, Miss Bancroft is looking forward to a fresh start for her candles and gifts business.
“It’s a new chapter and sometimes you need a bit of a push to change things so we’re all very optimistic, and all the staff are being retained so that’s really good too,” she said.
Although a deal has not been finalised, Miss Bancroft said she was likely to be moving to a ‘more characterful’ premises in Whiting Street, where she hopes to be able to reopen in the first week of January.
It will be the third time she has relocated her business, which started life in Risbygate Street 18 years ago and has operated out of Cornhill Walk for the past 15 years.
Paying homage to centre manager Chrissy Harrod, Miss Bancroft said: “Without Chrissy’s commitment and determination I think Cornhill Walk would have been empty many years ago and we certainly wouldn’t have seen charity stalls, markets and individual stalls in here at all, which have all added to the prosperity of the town.”
“I’d also like to thank the customers who have supported us over the years, and will do so in the run up to Christmas Eve and subsequently in our new home, because without our lovely customers we wouldn’t exist,” she added.
Jacqueline Old, who runs Jack’s Christmas Shop, said as a festive ‘pop up’ shop she was not in the same predicament as the other businesses. Mark Cordell, chairman of Bury’s Business Improvement District, Ourburystedmunds, said he hoped the sale would prove a positive move for the town, with the building remaining as a retail centre.
He said: “I’m delighted to hear that Cornhill Walk is now in new ownership but, of course, it now depends on what the future plans are as to whether this turns out to be a positive move for the town. I’m very hopeful that will be the case and that the centre can become an attractive retail location in Bury in the future.”
“Obviously this decision impacts on the two existing tenants but I’m delighted to hear that Buy The Light is relocating in the town centre and hope that the same will be true for Angeli Beauty Point,” he added.
Echoing Mr Cordell’s thoughts, Colin Knight, president of the Bury Chamber of Commerce, said he would like to see it brought back into retail use ‘as quickly as possible’.
“It would be great to get that back up and running and to see that side of the town develop and get back to full retail use,” he added.
Cornhill Walk was owned by Landmaster Properties Ltd, which went into administration in February, 2014.
KPMG was first appointed as administrators but it is understood John Barber and Tim Perkin, of CBRE Ltd, were appointed in October, 2014.
CBRE have so far failed to respond to requests for a comment.
Mrs Harrod said she was unable to comment at this stage.