Council bosses vow to keep Toys 'R' Us in Scunthorpe as store set to close
By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 7 Dec 2017
Council bosses have pledged to do all they can to keep Toys 'R' Us in Scunthorpe – after the retailer announced its store in the town is set to close.
The company revealed this week that it would be shutting 26 branches in the UK in the new year after struggling to compete with online retailers.
A spokeswoman for Toys 'R' Us said the Scunthorpe branch, on the Gallagher Retail park, was "likely" to be among those cut.
And when a list was revealed of the stores expected to be closed, the Scunthorpe branch appeared on it.
The announcement marks the latest blow for retail in Scunthorpe, which has lost several big-name companies in recent years.
They include a host of chains to have been lost from the town centre, including TJ Hughes, HMV, BHS and most recently, H&M.
North Lincolnshire Council leader Rob Waltham said the authority would be looking to do what it could to prevent the closure of the Toys 'R' Us store, which employs 50 people.
He said: "The council intends to make contact with the firm and see what we can do to support them to stay in North Lincolnshire.
"We will do what we can and have that conversation with them.
"You never want to lose any businesses but you have to be pragmatic about the fact those that have overseas investors are going to be subject to crises in their own market."
Mr Waltham added: "Clearly, it is the impact of the parent company in the US that is causing these closures.
"As we move forward with our economy, we need to be encouraging more independent retailers because they are more resilient to shareholder influence, particularly those with overseas investors.
"We have got to encourage more independent and family-owned businesses to take on units."
Mum-of-two Kayleigh Fillingham said she will miss the store’s flexible payment scheme.
"My kids are seven and three. It will be a shame if it goes. I know a few people said it is quite expensive. I am pretty lucky because my mum lives in Lincoln," she said.
A resident of Brigg, who did not wish to be named, said she thinks it is "awful" that the store could close down.
"My children are 10 and eight. My oldest has autism and this is a nice location for him to come to. It is not too busy.
"It will upset him," she said.
Toys 'R' Us started trading in Scunthorpe in July 2002 after more than £2 million was invested on building a 30,000 square feet unit.
At the time the store, offering 6,500 different lines, was said to be the most modern in Britain.
The company’s American owners announced on Monday that at least 26 branches in the UK were to shut down in Spring 2018, with a total of 800 roles at risk of redundancy.
That news came three months after the retailer filed for bankruptcy protection in the USA and Canada, after struggling with a £3.6 billion debt and competition from the likes of Amazon and Walmart.
The closures are said to be part of a plan to transform the business to meet the evolving needs of customers in the current UK retail market.
Warehouse-style stores like the one in Scunthorpe are to be culled as part of the cost-cutting transformation.
But the company has insisted all stores will remain open as normal over the Christmas period, with the closures set to begin from spring.
Commenting on the future of the Scunthorpe store, a spokeswoman said: "It is likely that the Toys 'R' Us store in Scunthorpe will close in the Spring of 2018.
"We will continue to honour gift cards and Take Time To Pay arrangements and there will be no change in our returns policy."
Scunthorpe Telegraph readers have also had their say on the planned closure on our Facebook page.
Christine Ashworth wrote: "I really love this shop, so do my kids.
"Hopefully it’ll get replaced with a Smyths so we still have the same type of shop."
Rebekah Elliott wrote: "They should have followed a more Ikea-based model and made it more of an experience to go there. less stock, more toys for children to play with, set up in defined areas.
"That way, people would be more likely to buy in-store."
But others pointed to the difference in price between those offered at the store and those available online.
Annette Betton said: "Not surprised really, over-priced.
"I went in on Sunday, Lego priced £99.99 in there was £69.99 online.
"They did price-match it but surely it shouldn't have had a £30 difference."