Festive footfall boost is good end to a good year

William Gear
William Gear

THERE was a cracking result for the Brandon Shopping Centre in Motherwell over the festive period as footfall grew seven per cent on the year before.

William Gear, director of centre owners Chester Properties, admits this wasn’t an entirely expected result with experts predicting a disaster on the high street.

He said: “It’s a sparkling performance in the face of some of the worst retail trading conditions of recent times.

“In the run-up to Christmas retail analysts were all gloom and doom, predicting shoppers would desert the High Street for the internet, so we are delighted that our footfall figures showed an impressive year on year increase.”

Chester let 30,000 sq ft of floor space more than it lost last year, with figures produced by North Lanarkshire Council showing the centre’s vacancy rate for shops and offices was nine per cent, below the national average of 14 per cent.

Six new businesses moved into the centre last year, including household names PerfectHome, the Officers Club and Paddy Power, and despite the loss of long-established brands like Burton and Dorthy Perkins there was a net increase of 50 jobs.

Mr Gear said: ““It’s great news for the 1,300 retail workers in the town centre, but we couldn’t have done it alone.

“We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to North Lanarkshire Council and the Scottish Government for their commitment to town centre regeneration.”

Councillor David Fagan, convener of the council’s regeneartion committee, was pleased by the latest figures.

He said: “It’s great to see Motherwell doing well and particularly the Brandon Parade businesses that have seen strong footfall numbers and the council and Town Centre Activities are delighted to have played a part.

“One recent success was the major refurbishment of Muir Street which has been extremely well received by traders and the public and our Shopmobilty service continues to be well used.”

Meanwhile, one of Motherwell oldest businesses is expanding.

Sleepy Valley is opening a second store on Saturday in the former Taskmaster Recruitment in Brandon Street opposite the existing shop.

The new venture will sell higher end furniture and bedding, creating three job, and comes after Robert Flannigan, who started the business 35 years ago, reacquired it from his brother-in-law Gordon Dempster after an absence of 28 years.

He said: “Despite the recession we are still thriving and I can only put that down to my excellent sales satff.

“I have no regrets about leaving to pursue a career in engineering as it provided me with a good living.

“But I admit I get a real buzz from being back and the new store provides an excellent opportunity.”