Bid to keep chain store

SHUTTING SHOP: WHSmith will close its Princess of Wales Precinct store in June, but has not ruled out a move to new premises in the town. (d11051150)
SHUTTING SHOP: WHSmith will close its Princess of Wales Precinct store in June, but has not ruled out a move to new premises in the town. (d11051150)

URGENT talks are being held to keep a high street chain’s main store in Dewsbury.

WHSmith will close its Princess of Wales Precinct branch on June 30 when its lease expires.

It blamed ‘excessive’ rent but said its bus station shop would stay and it would consider other town centre premises.

The company is in talks with precinct owner Ravenhill Estates, Kirklees Council and Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Simon Reevell to see if a solution can be found.

And the Reporter can exclusively reveal that high street chain Perfect Home will open in the precinct in September.

The homeware store plans to open 75 shops across the UK in the next five years.

WHSmith property director Chris Williams said: “Whilst we remain committed to Dewsbury, the proposed rent was excessive. We will continue to look for further opportunities and should a suitable location become available in Dewsbury we would look into this.”

When WHSmith closes, Dorothy Perkins, Boots and New Look will be among the few high street stores left in the precinct.

Boots manager Wendy White said: “We were really staggered when we heard the news. There are very few of what you might call heritage high street stores in the town so it’s really sad to see WHSmith go.”

Dorothy Perkins manager Kirsty Dearlove added: “We just wish the owners of the precinct would think. If we all go, there’s going to be nothing left to come for.”

But Ravenhill’s letting agents, Savills, defended the company.

Director Steve Henderson said Ravenhill was working hard to keep tenants and offer incentives to attract new ones.

He said there had been four empty units in May 2010, but there was only the old Jack Fulton unit left empty now that Perfect Home had signed up.

He added that the company was in talks with two other retailers about the last unit.

Mr Reevell, who has talked with WHSmith’s managing director, welcomed the arrival of Perfect Home and said he hopedto talk with Ravenhill soon.

Meanwhile, Kirklees Council’s regeneration director Ken Gillespie said: “I’m keen for all parties to meet up so that we can try to find a solution which would allow WHSmith to continue trading in the town.”