Clothing retailer Next tells more about its decision to leave Peterborough’s Queensgate

Bosses of fashion chain Next have revealed more details behind their decision to quit Peterborough’s Queensgate shopping centre.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 5:10 am

The retailer confirmed on Tuesday that it is permanently closing its two-storey branch in Queensgate and hopes to redeploy staff.

Now the company has revealed the store is shutting as its lease with the Queensgate centre comes to an end.

It says the store will not reopen on April 12 when non-essential retailers are allowed to resume trading as restrictions under the third national Covid lockdown are eased.

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Next in Queensgate during the Boxing Day sales eight years ago. ENGEMN00120131227083606
Next in Queensgate during the Boxing Day sales eight years ago. ENGEMN00120131227083606

It also says it hopes to find alternative employment for the 30 staff who work at the store.

A Next spokesman said: “Although the Queensgate store was set to close at the natural end of its lease, which is May, for practical reasons, as there are only a few weeks left on the lease, the store won’t be reopened on Monday after this current lockdown ends.

He added: “The store employs about 30 people, many of whom are part-time, and some may be employed at the two nearby remaining and unaffected Next stores at Brotherhood Retail Park and Serpentine Green.”

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow said: “This is a disappointing announcement and I hope employees can be redeployed at other retail centres.

“My focus is on doing what we can do to create more retail, leisure and hospitality venues and job opportunities in the centre of our city.”

Next has not made any secret of the impact of the pandemic on the way many more of its customers are opting to shop online and its need to reduce rents and costs of its stores across the country.

In a trading update at the start of the year, Next revealed: “Stores located in out-of-town retail parks continued to perform 15 per cent better than those in city centres and shopping centres.”

Its annual results for 2020, released earlier this month, stated that it expected store sales to fall 34 per cent this year, making a loss of about £20 million whereas it expected to make a £560 million profit in its online business, 
Lord Simon Wolfson, chief executive of Next, also warned he did not know how many stores the group would have in five or 10 years’ time.

He said: “These decisions are made on a store-by-store basis as leases renew. But I can’t imagine why anybody would want to close a shop that is profitable.”
The departure of Next is another blow for the Queensgate centre after department store chain John Lewis announced last month that its four-storey shop will not reopen on April 12 and will be permanently closed putting 318 jobs at risk.

Managers for the Queensgate shopping centre have not responded to requests for comments on either of the closure announcements.