Fears for town shops

Arnold Sumner (right), co-ordinator of St Annes Chamber of Trade, and fellow parking campaigner Andrew Smith outside JR Taylor, St Annes as it launched its closing down sale
Arnold Sumner (right), co-ordinator of St Annes Chamber of Trade, and fellow parking campaigner Andrew Smith outside JR Taylor, St Annes as it launched its closing down sale

Fears have been rasied the potential loss of St Annes’ largest store could threaten the future of other businesses in the town.

Administrators being called in at JR Taylor earlier this month sent shock waves through the town, with St Annes Chamber of Trade co-ordinator Arnold Sumner claiming ongoing concerns over parking restrictions around The Square were a major factor behind a reported downturn in trade.

Mr Sumner and local businessman Andrew Smith were the prime movers behind a recent petition to alter parking arrangements, including extending on-street limits from one hour to two, on which they collected more than 3,000 signatures.

“We are still waiting to hear back as to if and when any changes might be made and now JR Taylor is in danger of closing down,” Mr Smith told a meeting of the Chamber.

“The potential loss of that iconic store would be one of the most serious things to happen to St Annes in years and I am nervous that there would be a real risk of a knock-on effect.

“If Taylor’s goes, I think a who host of businesses battling to make ends meet would ask ‘what about us?’.”

Mr Sumner added: “A quality shop such as Taylor’s requires time for customers to look around and if the authorities would listen to our appeal for a two-hour on-street limit rather than the current one hour, I am sure it would make a big difference.”

Taylor’s, where 60 jobs are at risk, introduced a closing down sale at the weekend but the company has stressed efforts are ongoing to find a buyer and that ‘no formal deadline’ has been set.

Matthew Bye, a spokesman for the owners of the store, said: “Everyone is working hard to find a buyer for the business. There’s been some interest. The administrator has to consider every eventuality and the fact remains if we don’t find a buyer the store will close.”

Meanwhile, the manager of the store has launched an impassioned plea to find a buyer.

In a post on the company’s Facebook page, Rebecca Embelton said: “If we don’t find a buyer, the store will close its doors in a matter of weeks.

“As the current store manager, I feel we have nothing to lose to send out this social media message and ask our friends and family to spread the word, in the hope that a buyer will be found.

“I can almost guarantee that anyone in the FY or PR postcodes, and beyond, will have had some form of contact with our store.

“To have this beautiful building empty on your high street would be such a great shame and a waste.”

The decision to enter administration by owners Howjow Investments Ltd was made after a “sustained period of difficult trading conditions,” with the Manchester office of Duff and Phelps appointed as administrator.