Bury St Edmunds business leader raises concerns over empty units after two shops close
A business leader has raised concerns over empty units in Bury St Edmunds and called for landlords to be 'more realistic' with rents after two shops closed.
Retailers Gifted and Artico, both in Buttermarket, have shut - adding to the number of empty units in the town centre.
A notice on the front of jewellers Artico said: "Regrettably, this branch of Artico will not open for the foreseeable future.
"However, all aspects of the business are continuing in the Bishop's Stortford branch and online.
"Gift cards can be redeemed in the Bishop's Stortford branch and can also be converted to coupons for website orders.
"We are actively looking for new tenants for this shop premises and have negotiated a very generous start-up package with the landlord."
Gifted opened last year and sold Harry Potter merchandise, superhero gifts and other collectibles.
Mark Cordell, chief executive Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District, said throughout the time the business was there, the premises was available to rent 'so they were always short term'.
He said taking into account the empty units at the former Palmers, in Buttermarket, and Goldsmiths, it was 'concerning but probably not wholly surprising' given it was 'not a good year for retail'.
"My hope is landlords will be a bit more realistic with their rents and hopefully provide innovative ways of encouraging people to take up leases in the town," Mr Cordell said.
"Bury is still an attractive place to open a business and our footfall levels have performed very well compared with other locations but it's a challenge and the next few months are going to be very difficult for retail."
He added West Suffolk Council had carried out an audit of vacant premises last month with the figure at 7.9 per cent which was the same in January.
"Statistically things haven't worsened but I'm always mindful when they are vacant in such prime locations. I'm mindful it has a more visual impact.
"I would hope landlords would be open to the possibility of pop up shops, temporary leasing because it's far better to have these premises occupied than empty.
"I'm in discussion with local commercial agents about this."