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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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New businesses to get Jessops stores?

The former Jessops camera shop in Carlisle could be handed over to an independent local retailer on a rolling lease.

A newly-formed national group, PopUp Forum, is in talks with Jessops’ administrators about re-letting at least some of the empty stores to start-up businesses on advantageous terms.

PopUp Forum includes Dan Thompson from the Empty Shops Network, Emma Jones of the enterprise campaign StartUp Britain, and Nick Russell of We Are Pop Up.

Ms Jones said: “We’re working with the administrators’ lawyers to contact landlords and find out if we can take control of a percentage of the newly-closed shops with a view to offering affordable retail spaces to small and start-up British retail businesses, on a rolling basis.”

Jessops’ administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers, announced on Friday that all 187 Jessops’ stores would close within days, including that in Devonshire Street, Carlisle.

PopUp Forum is also talking to Deloitte, the administrators of music chain HMV, ahead of an anticipated announcement that some HMV stores will close while Deloitte seeks a buyer for the business.

HMV has branches in Carlisle and Workington.

There was better news on the high street when Thorntons, JD Wetherspoon and Halfords all reported healthy Christmas trading figures. Chocolate retailer Thorntons said commercial sales grew by 26.4 per cent to £34.7m in the 14 weeks to January 12, against a 1.3 per cent decline in like-for-like sales in its stores.

With overall sales up by 5.4 per cent to £88m, the company is on course to meet profit expectations for the year.

Pub operator JD Wetherspoon enjoyed an 8.0 per cent surge in festive sales but warned that rising costs would dent profit margins as it faces higher energy bills and wage costs.

And Halfords, the car parts and leisure goods retailer, reported “solid” Christmas trading.

The company upgraded its full-year profit forecast after like-for-like retail sales increased 0.4 per cent.

Chief executive Matt Davies, the former Pets at Home boss who joined the group in October, said it was a “satisfactory performance in tough conditions”.

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