THREE local businesses have scotched rumours of imminent closures and reaffirmed their commitment to remaining in Armidale.
The Express understands there has been considerable concern about the future of the Lincraft, Bunnings Warehouse and Bing Lee stores in Armidale.
While some had heard of the rumours, representatives of each of the retailers have denied any plans to close.
The retailers’ reassurances came during a week in which Harrisons of Armidale is due to close, and almost three weeks after Best & Less closed in the East Mall.
Lincraft area manager Amanda Mevissen said her staff had received a number of calls from people worried about the store going out of business.
She said the rumours could have come about because a storeroom owned by the retailer was being vacated.
“We’re emptying the storeroom at the moment, but there aren’t any plans to close at the moment,” she said. “In fact, this store’s doing really well.”
Mrs Mevissen, who oversees stores throughout northern NSW, said Armidale was one of the better-performing stores nationwide.
“Armidale’s one of the top stores,” she said. “Retail is doing it tough nationally, and the location here is not ideal, but it’s still performing strongly and they’re celebrating 12 months in Armidale this year.
“People come from Tamworth, Glen Innes and even further out west at Moree. We’ve even had someone come regularly from Lightning Ridge.”
Bunnings chief operating officer Peter Davis told The Express that there were no plans to close Armidale’s store, although the site may be leased at some point.
“Bunnings Warehouse opened in May 2010 and is trading well above our expectations,” he said. “We have no plans to close the store and we are currently considering options to expand the warehouse. We may complete a sale and leaseback transaction for the property which we own, but that will not in any way change our long term plans to operate our Armidale store.”
A spokesperson for Bing Lee also denied any plans to close its Beardy Street store.
The Express understands there was speculation in the community that the tough retail environment, combined with a lack of nearby parking, had made it unviable for Bing Lee to continue operating in Armidale. But the spokesperson said such rumours were baseless.
“There are no plans to close; we’re going to be here for the long term,” the spokesperson said. “I have no idea how those rumours came about, but as far as I’m aware there aren’t any plans to close.”
Armidale Dumaresq Council general manager Shane Burns said he had not heard the rumours, but expressed relief at the retailers’ commitment to remaining in Armidale.
“Council is glad to hear that the rumours have no substance and welcome the reassurances from the respective businesses,” he said.
“It is no secret that generally retail is struggling at present, not only in Armidale but across Australia.
“Consumer and business confidence will return and it is hoped that these businesses will push through the downturn and be here to take advantage of the eventual turnaround.”