UK shopping centre Afflecks Palace secures its future

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Afflecks Palace, the “iconic, alternative shopping centre” in the Northern Quarter of Manchester in England, United Kingdom, was saved from closure this week after long-running rumours that the market may have to “kick out its traders” due to a dispute between the management of the Afflecks Palace brand and the leaseowner for the building, Bruntwood.

Rumours suggesting that Bruntwood were looking to redevelop the building started early in 2007, when it became apparent that the property developer was not actively seeking to renew the twenty-five year lease that the management of Afflecks Palace had with them concerning the building. These initial fears were added to by news that Bruntwood was looking to redevelop other buildings it owned in the Northern Quarter area, specifically the parking complex opposite Afflecks, with an eye towards taking advantage of the “property boom” in Manchester at the time. There were also fears that if Afflecks did remain open, “rents would rise”.

These initial fears were eventually propagated closer to the end of the year when a letter from the management of Afflecks Palace told individual stall holders that “… management have received no formal response from Bruntwood to a tenancy request notice served in October [2007]”, going on to add that “We can only assume therefore that they do not intend to offer us a new lease”.

Following the release of this letter, public support for Afflecks Palace was quickly made obvious when a 5,000 signature petition was submitted demanding the centre remain open for business. This seemed to prompt talks between Bruntwood and the Afflecks Palace management and, eventually, lead to this week’s news that the market was – indeed – to remain open. The result of the talks was that Bruntwood “bought out” the Afflecks Palace brand.

Bruntwood will manage Afflecks while they look for a new owner who is skilled in running market style businesses

A joint statement between the management of Afflecks Palace and Bruntwood said: “After 26 years of trading, Afflecks’ management has sold their company to Bruntwood in an agreement that protects the future of Afflecks. Bruntwood will manage Afflecks while they look for a new owner who is skilled in running market style businesses and can bring a similar level of enthusiasm and dedication that the existing management has.”

A spokesperson speaking on behalf of Bruntwood also added that: “Never in our 30 year history have we bought one of our customer’s businesses, but Afflecks is a Manchester icon that we wanted to protect. We aren’t however expert in managing markets, so will look for a suitable long term owner. In the meantime, the most important aspect is that we have arrived at a solution with Afflecks management that protects an independent retail environment and provides the existing stallholders with security.”

Traders from the market celebrated the news by holding a party yesterday.

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