Shopping centre lining up lease deals

A SHOPPING centre is set for “exciting times” despite the loss of one of its biggest stores, say bosses.

The owners of Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, in Hartlepool, responded after news that the Westgate department store was to close with the loss of 21 full and part-time jobs.

The Westgate closure will take the total of empty units in the shopping centre to 33 from a total of 144 stores.

Centre bosses said they were “disappointed” that Westgate would not be extending its lease.

But a spokesman for Middleton Grange’s owners, Premier Property Group, said: “We are hoping to conclude eight new leases in the shopping centre very soon.

“We are experiencing the most exciting time in the shopping centre for the past couple of years.”

The spokesman added: “We are hoping the new leases will be a mixture of existing tenants and some new names that will be coming into the centre in the not too distant future.”

The Mail revealed how Westgate was planning to close on Wednesday, November 30.

The store, which sells a range of products including home furnishings and appliances and also houses a travel agents, is run by Peterborough-based Anglia Co-operative, which runs similar stores across the UK.

The closure means 21 full-time and part-time staff face redundancy. Company bosses decided not to extend the lease, which runs out at the end of November.

Staff were told of the closure at a meeting on Monday.