Shopping giant Intu failed to reach an agreement in financial restructuring talks today meaning Intu Watford and Intu Milton Keynes could be closing their doors having just re-opened them following the coronavirus shutdown.
Earlier this week, Intu Properties warned that shopping malls across the UK may have to close their doors for a period. Intu Properties who are currently £4.5 billion in debt have been in talks with their creditors to obtain standstill agreements. This would have meant Intu would not have to pay back what it has borrowed until the end of 2021. These talks failed and Intu is entering administration with potential closures in Watford & Milton Keynes.
What is administration?
Administration is an insolvency procedure that protects your company against legal pressure from its creditors while an Insolvency Practitioner or firm acts as administrator. Many companies come back from administration.
What does this mean for our high streets?
The news comes as a double blow as Milton Keynes and Watford have lost Debenhams in the past month. The closure of a two-year-old Debenhams store in Watford is particularly disappointing . With its upmarket beauty hall and gin bar, it had been billed as the retailer’s ‘store of the future’. New ideas were introduced which included hosted events for Beauty Club members – a new online loyalty scheme and forum, featuring tips and advice on products from regular customers.
Some view a potential collapse as a good thing for independents who have struggled recently. Rents have been extremely high for all involved and changes in shopping behaviour have created the perfect storm alongside the coronavirus pandemic. Many are hoping landlords take note and look at rent levels.
Monsoon Accessorize, the business behind popular High Street fashion retailers Monsoon and Accessorize recently announced they are closing 35 stores across the UK with two in The Three Counties.
Local business launch “Brew for a Hero” campaign for NHS & key workers
Harpenden based Twist Teas have announced their “Brew for a Hero” campaign is back! Launched to support and boost morale for NHS staff and key workers, the Brew for a Hero” campaign gives people a chance to show their appreciation for all the heroes from all walks of life during the current pandemic. This could be anyone – local postal workers, refuse collectors and cleaners, emergency services and health care staff, teachers and chefs, community groups and volunteers.
You can participate in the “Brew for a Hero” by nominating a NHS or key workers hero you know. Nominate your hero and give them a chance to win one of Twist Teas Rainbow inspired tea caddies. If you know a key worker, that you would like to surprise with a personalised Rainbow Caddy of tea, simply email your nominations to email@example.com. Please include a brief reason, as to why they deserve a little treat. Twist Teas will again be tasked with the difficult job of picking winners, to be announced on the 31st of January.
Twist Teas will also be making caddies available to purchase via their website with profits going to NHS Charities. More information about Twist Teas can be found in our interview with founders, mother and daughter duo Nicky Kavanaugh & Claire Ayers.
Watford businesses to decide on the future of Watford BID
Watford BID have launched a video highlighting the reasons why they believe they deserve a second 5-year term. Many residents in Watford are aware of Watford BID but not many understand exactly what they do and more importantly, how integral their work is to the success of Watford.
What is a BID and why are they so important?
Essentially, a BID (Business Improvement District) is a business-led and business funded body formed to improve a specific area in which a levy is charged on all business rate payers. This levy is used to develop projects and provide services which benefit businesses in the local area. This can include:
- Activities to increase visitors to the area
- Reducing overall business costs for levy members
- Marketing and promotion of the area such
- Lobbying councils/local government
- Working with local police to reduce anti-social behaviour
There is no limit on what projects or services that can be provided through a Business Improvement District. Some BIDS are more effective at certain tasks than others for a number of reasons but overall, the benefits BIDs offer to the various towns across Beds, Bucks & Herts is immeasurable.
Three reasons for Watford BID to get renewed
We have selected what we believe are the three main reasons why Watford BID should get renewed.
1. Watford BID offers a central point of contact
At a time when the Government don’t know if they are coming or going, having a central point for all information relating to Watford offers residents, visitors and business owners a much-needed level of clarity. Social distancing procedures and safety communication both need harmonisation to keep Watford Town safe.
Watford BID have been extremely informative on Social Media and in the district sharing key information such as this statement on the national lockdown from the Mayor of Watford.
Typically a Business Improvement District is within a local authority boundary but in April 2013 government introduced Cross Boundary Business Improvement Districts enabling Business Improvement Districts to operate across local authority boundaries.
2. Watford Restaurants & Bars will need support after the lockdowns end
Promoting Watford’s entertainment venues post-covid is going to need a lot of collaborative support post covid. Individual businesses taking to to social media to posts and update Facebook is not going to tempt the same numbers back to the district’s nightlife venues.
By having one organisation working alongside all the venues to promote Watford as an entertainment destination, visitors will hear one concise message that Watford is open for business.
3. Think of the benefits for residents and visitors
There have been calls for BIDs across The Three Counties to do more by some levy payers but in fairness, the amount of work involved in some of the projects is not to be underestimated such as launching The Watford Gift Card.
It is also important to understand that alongside promoting what’s on in Watford and things to do in Watford, the organisation is a key source for useful information for those living in and visiting Watford.
Could this be the biggest clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage?
Regardless of lockdowns and coronavirus, people want food. Fans of Five Guys could be getting a late Christmas present with a new Five Guys in Stevenage. A recent job post on the Five Guys recruitment page for a General Manager in the Stevenage area has got locals excited about the possible arrival of the much loved American Chain.
Could this be the biggest clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage?
Spotted by an eagled eyed member of ‘Stevenage Chit Chat‘, the advert for a General Manager drops a few clues at a possible opening of a Five Guys in Stevenage.
Clue No.1 for a Five Guys in Stevenage – The perfect scene
Nothing cements a clue in a mystery more than a location. The recruitment team have placed a X on the spot and that is 51°54’02.4″N 0°12’33.7″W. For all the normal people reading this, that is Unit 10 in Stevenage Leisure Park. This was home to Pizza Hut since late 2002 but this recent Google treasure map shows the unit is currently empty.
Clue No.2 for a Five Guys in Stevenage – A job for an ‘accomplice’
Did we mention there is a second job advert for a ‘Assistant Manager? If one job advert was not enough proof, two should be enough to convince you that plans are afoot for a Five Guys in Stevenage.
Clue No.3 for a Five Guys in Stevenage – A motive
What more motive do you need than hungry people in Stevenage in need of a good burger? A Five Guys in Stevenage is well overdue. It could even tempt Sir Lewis Hamilton back to Stevenage.