Antonine boss insists shock closures can be overcome

The Antonine Centre has suffered mixed fortunes in recent months but there are encouraging signs that more investment will be attracted into the town.
The Antonine Centre has suffered mixed fortunes in recent months but there are encouraging signs that more investment will be attracted into the town.

The 2018 super summer feeling linked to recent high temperatures and the school holidays has not extended its warm rays to the Antonine Centre of late.

For the mall is still reeling from the loss of its flagship store, Dunnes, which still lacks a buyer.

And the complex has been battered by further closures.

Sports Direct has also announced it will close, with several more outlets beating them to it.

Quiz Clothing is now gone, as are the bigger units housing Poundworld and Bargain Buys.

They join Glitz Fashions, Gifts4U and Thorntons Outlet which have also ceased trading.

Martin Botha, centre manager, said: “Poundworld and Bargain Buys’ announcements about closing all their stores across the UK, following their recent administration, is disappointing. However, we are in discussions with other interested parties.

“The difficulty borne from a few closures has been considerably countered by an array of leasing successes, with six new lettings, including our most recent to Superdrug – which is due to open this summer.

“There have been a further nine lease renewals since the shopping centre was acquired last year, which clearly highlights our retailers’ and landlords’ commitment to the Antonine Centre.

“While Quiz will have to close its current store to enable this letting we are keen to retain it elsewhere in the centre.

“Discussions are also ongoing with various interested parties which should hopefully deliver some new and exciting stores and initiatives soon.”

As for implementing a controversial three hour parking restriction in June, Martin said: “ Antonine Centre always has its customers at the forefront of the decision-making process.

“The restriction has been implemented as a means to ensure we maintain sufficient parking for our shoppers.

“The surface car park has recently been congested due to overuse, arising from parking restrictions elsewhere in the town centre. Our multi-storey car park remains unrestricted and we feel, overall, we have delivered an improved facility for our customers.

“The centre is also undergoing some physical enhancements, including a full redecoration of the main mall and we are confident that this will complement the recently introduced free Wi-Fi service and our family- focused marketing activities which will continue to keep the centre attractive and welcoming for our customers and retailers.”

In fairness, the centre has had one triumph of late – Cafe Alba was awarded the accolade of Best Cafe in Scotland at the Scottish Business Awards.

And the man at the helm has an interesting perspective on why the Antonine Centre works for his business.

Glenn MacNay said: “We considered a number of different sites but Cumbernauld – with a population of more than 50,000 people and a great shopping centre – was the clear winner.

“The centre works well for us because it has such a high footfall, a good retail mix and is ideally located in Cumbernauld, between Asda and Tesco and with great transport links.

“It also has a great location opposite Next and TK Maxx and being beside other food outlets helps too as people know where to go to find something to eat.

“It was quite daunting opening a family business beside major national retailers but a challenge which we welcomed and from which we have gained a great deal of experience.”

Another undeniable success story is nearby gym Xcercise4Less which has just completed its first month of trading. It has succeeded in its target of snapping up 4000 new members – and counting. There are also signs that its debut might have more positive implications for the centre.

Landlord John Dunn said: “The area we redeveloped was a colder part of the centre with less footfall.

“Retailer demand in that area was quite low so we had to do something radical with the space.

“There were 12 shop units there, in addition to the common mall area.

“We took that space back, reconfigured it and opened it all out. We were hopeful that there would be quite a significant upturn.

“We’re already targeting new retailers to compliment and work with the new gym.”