THE Forum Shopping Centre in Chester is fighting back against the continuing recession, with businesses eager to snap up all the available spaces.
The centre’s manager, Lawrence Allen, revealed there are several firms interested in setting up shop in the currently vacant slots, including the former T J Hughes store next to Chester Market.
Mr Allen said: “We have a vacant kiosk, a single unit, a double unit and the former T J Hughes multi-storey unit.
“The double unit has been looked at by a clothing company and a well-known high street name has viewed the former T J Hughes premises.
“The kiosk and the single unit have been viewed by interested parties including a ladies’ beauty business.”
Mr Allen was not yet in a position to reveal the identities of the interested parties but he added: “Although they haven’t been snapped up so far, I’m confident they will in view of The Forum’s location, its popularity with shoppers and its reputation.
“The Forum has been an important shopping destination for the people in and around Chester since the 1960s when it first opened.
“It remains a retail landmark in the city and that makes it even more valuable to entrepreneurs looking for a site for their new business concerns.
“It is encouraging to have interested parties coming forward, especially during this time of recession. In fact, such interest is good news for The Forum and good news for Chester.”
The encouraging news comes at the end of a decade of uncertainty for the shopping centre which lies at the heart of the site for the proposed Northgate retail development which has been plagued by delays.
Although two new schemes – one from Cheshire West and Chester Council, the other from developers ING – have been announced, this week’s news has provided a welcome boost for the future of The Forum.
Colin Brew, executive director of West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the interest in The Forum.
He said: “In these uncertain economic times it’s always great to see previously empty shops being filled by businesses willing to take a chance and punch through the issues we’re all currently facing.”