Disney Store to quit Potteries Shopping Centre over rent row
GLOBAL toy chain Disney Store is shutting its popular Hanley shop and leaving Stoke-on-Trent.
The branch will close in the Potteries Shopping Centre this month.
Shopping centre officials and Disney executives today confirmed the store is closing when the branch's lease runs out.
But The Sentinel understands Disney pulled out following a disagreement over rent levels.
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Twelve members of staff working at the Hanley store have been offered the chance to work at neighbouring branches or be made redundant.
A Disney spokesman said: "Following the expiration of our lease, Disney Store can confirm that we intend to close our store in Hanley in January 2013.
"We will continue to trade as normal until that time."
The news comes days after photography chain Jessops closed its shopping centre outlet and the future of the HMV music store on the Upper Mall hangs in the balance.
And rental firm Blockbuster UK – which has stores in Stoke, Crewe, Congleton and Sandbach – yesterday became the latest company to fall into administration.
City Centre Partnership chairman Doug Wardle, pictured, said: "There has been a lot of talk about the amount of rent these big High Street names have to pay. Smaller, independent landlords are having to accommodate new tenants at a lower rate to ensure their units are occupied, but big shopping centres are doing very little to attract, or keep, these big names.
"It remains to be seen whether the Disney Store unit will be occupied by someone else because bigger units are more difficult to rent out. I only hope other big names don't start to follow suit and also leave the centre."
Ward councillor Paul Breeze added: "It is a shame about Disney but it is a sign of the times. People are losing their jobs all over the place."
City centre trader Anthony Turner, who runs Terraces Menswear, in Piccadilly, said: "Both the Disney store and HMV are big names. This is not a very good sign."
Customers will be re-directed to the company's online store following the closure.
Staff are holding a farewell party at Wetherspoon's Reginald Mitchell pub in Tontine Street, Hanley, on Friday, January 25.
Shopper Sam Rowlinson, aged 20, of Clayton, said: "There are no other Disney stores close to Stoke-on-Trent, so people will have to go elsewhere. It has been there since I can remember."