SCORES of shops and concessions look likely to close across Cumbria and surrounding areas as a retail rescuer for a stricken chain dispenses with the need for high street stores.

On Monday, online fashion store Asos confirmed the takeover of Topshop and three other brands from the collapse of the Arcadia retail empire for £265m.

The deal, however, does not include stores and concessions including those in places like Carlisle and Workington.

The online fashion retailer is buying Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT.
Arcadia also has a number of other brands including Burton, Evans, Dorothy Perkins, Outfit and Wallis.

Carlisle city councillor Paul Nedved, economy, enterprise and housing portfolio holder, said he was “extremely disappointed” at the decision.

He added: “There are a number of retail sites in the city centre that it affects, but I suppose it’s not just something that’s happening in the town and city but across the country.

“I have to say it’s very disappointing, it’s the second time that a retail company has decided to leave the physical environment this year with Debenhams being the first.”

“The city centre is resilient and will rebound from this.”

He pointed to a raft of initiatives like the Towns Fund where Carlisle was confirmed as one of the 100 towns across the country shortlisted to secure up to £25 million from the Government.

Suzanne Caldwell, managing director of Cumbria chamber of Commerce, said: “This isn’t unsurprising and is just another step in the moves towards more and more online shopping.

“We were already heading clearly in that direction and it’s been further encouraged by Covid-19.

“It’s a real challenge for our high streets and these brands have been among our core high street names for as long as most of us can remember – and before. From an individual retailer perspective it’s about adapting to the world as it is and as it’s becoming, which  means embracing online as part or even all of the mix — also learning from those who are making physical stores work.

“So what can high streets do? From a high street perspective, it isn’t something a single retailer can address on their own. It’s about making high streets an enjoyable and interesting place to spend time and money — mixing retail, food and drink and other leisure. And adding to the vibrancy by getting more people living in city centres.

“There are groups and organisations working around the county to look at how we can achieve that. And for individual retailers there is help available through Cumbria Business Growth Hub”.