A RETAIL stalwart in South Tyneside’s best-known shopping area has confirmed it is closing after almost quarter of a century.
Dorothy Perkins, the women’s fashion outlet, opened its doors in the King Street thoroughfare back in September, 1989.
But today a spokesman for the company announced that the store was to close for the final time on Saturday, November 8.
It’s the latest blow to the once-thriving retail area in South Shields town centre.
Internacionale, the women’s clothes brand currently in administration, recently vacated its shop in King Street, following the closure of other national outlets in the street this year, notably Marks & Spencer and Mothercare.
Today, a council spokesman expressed regret at the latest exit from the town – but pledged to do all that was possible to ensure the unit was re-let soon and to continue the town’s regeneration through its 365 masterplan.
Meanwhile, Gavin Holder, owner of GHI Computers in King Street, revealed he was evaluating whether to renew the shop’s lease when it comes up next July.
He said: “There was a town team meeting between retailers and the council this week and there was a lot of doom and gloom.
“The council talk about offering support for the next three years until the 365 regeneration plan is up and running. But that won’t be a quick fix.
“The quick fix is parking in the town centre, but we’re told that isn’t feasible.
“A lot of traders were concerned about not making it to Christmas, never mind three years’ time. Retailers from the Fowler Street area are particularly worried about the future – there’s just no footfall there.”
Last week, the Gazette reported how mobile phone chain Vodafone is planning a return to King Street.
The shop, which will be on the site of the former Internacionale clothes shop, is set to open its doors on Thursday, August 28.
The chain has previously had a home in the street but left about four years ago.
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “We are naturally disappointed to see Dorothy Perkins close its main branch on King Street.
“The building it occupies is privately owned and the council will help support the landlord to ensure the unit is re-let as quickly as possible.
“This will not detract from our regeneration plans and we will continue to work hard to attract the private sector investment needed to help realise our vision for the town centre.
“Only last week we welcomed the news that Vodafone is relocating to King Street, which indicates that business confidence in the area is returning.
“We have more than 300 free parking spaces and also introduced the parking refund scheme to save shoppers money and encourage them to visit the town centre.
“We value retailers’ views and will continue to work closely with them to identify further measures to support the high street.”
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