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Future remains unclear for closed Bennetts stores

PUBLISHED: 17:41 18 April 2011

Jason Tulley, manager of the Bennetts store in Hall Road, Norwich, which has re-opened

Jason Tulley, manager of the Bennetts store in Hall Road, Norwich, which has re-opened

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The shutters at 10 former Bennetts stores are still down as potential buyers continue their negotiations with landlords.

No plans to re-open any of the remaining closed stores, including an outlet at Longwater business park in Costessey, are currently in place, according to a spokesman for administrator PKF.

The Panasonic store on Castle Street in Norwich city centre, which was operated by Bennetts, is also yet to re-open its doors. The shop signage has now been taken down, raising doubts about whether it will reopen as a Panasonic store at all.

Six affected outlets have been successfully relaunched under the Bennetts name following a purchase by Lowestoft-based rival Hughes Electrical. Bennetts’ trade and online operations were also acquired in the sale.

The move safeguarded 117 jobs lost in the collapse in March which came after credit insurers pulled their support for the Norwich-based company, while competition from internet retailers, supermarkets and weak consumer spending were also listed as factors in its demise.

But the list of re-opened stores, which includes those in Hall Road, Norwich, Dereham and Cromer, as well as Martlesham in Suffolk, Farnham in Surrey and Colchester Tollgate, has yet to be added to.

Others still awaiting news include stores at Longwater, Holt, Diss, King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth and Bury St Edmunds.

A spokesman for PKF said no further bids from companies looking to take on a cluster of the shops, like Hughes, were currently on the table.

He added: “Basically any potential purchasers are dealing directly with the individual landlords. The situation is such that those who show interest in a particular store begin their own negotiations with the landlord.

“Six have been purchased and all have been re-opened, but 10 remain closed.”

Bennetts, which has headquarters in Barnard Road, Bowthorpe, was one of the region’s largest independent retailers with sales of £55m last year.

PKF had to make 228 redundances following its fall into administration.

Are you looking for a job? See the Evening News jobs pages every Wednesday or at www.jobs24.co.uk.

Have you got a business story for the Evening News? Contact Matthew Sparkes on 01603 772447 or matthew.sparkes@archant.co.uk.

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