'Rushden Lakes will kill off the town' fears Northampton shop owner as he prepares to close

Pick a Card owner Brian Wilson, pictured with staff member Teresa Whitestone, has decided to shut up shop in Northampton as the opening of the Rushden Lakes development nears.
Pick a Card owner Brian Wilson, pictured with staff member Teresa Whitestone, has decided to shut up shop in Northampton as the opening of the Rushden Lakes development nears.

A Northampton card shop owner says the impending opening of Rushden Lakes was a big factor in his decision to close.

A Northampton card shop owner says the impending opening of Rushden Lakes was a big factor in his decision to cease trading.

Pick a Card in Market Walk is set to shut up shop on July 29, having first opened in the shopping centre in 2012.

But manager Brian Wilson said that, with the £140 million Rushden Lakes retail park set to open in a matter of weeks, he just could not continue.

He said: "I think the Rushden Lakes think will kill off the town. They are offering buses there every half an hour.

"It's got all the big brand names so people are going to try it."

Mr Wilson will keep his store in Kettering, but he said trade at his Market Walk premises was beginning to drop off a cliff as it was.

"The sales have just dropped to the point we are not making money anymore.

"I was hoping that once the council offices moved (to the £53 million Angel Square buildings) I thought that might help.

"I was hoping we could get people coming in on their lunch breaks, I was hoping we would get people coming in on their lunch breaks but that hasn't happened at all."

The loss of Pick a Card will come as another blow to Market Walk, which lost Next to the Grosvenor Centre in 2014 and has struggled to fill the retail void at the far end of the centre since.

But landlords Bursha Holdings have since won planning approval to convert much of its retail space into offices and restaurants.

Centre manager, Mark Austin, who has worked at market Walk for 19 years, believes the plans will work.

"Five units come under the business rates threshold and we have got some great space in here for the taking for large or small retailers," said Mr Austin.

"I'm quietly confident that, given the right tools, the landlords can attract someone into the centre."