HOLLYWOOD Fancy Dress is closing its Bournemouth town centre store after losing a battle against “crippling” business rates and rent.

Manager Archie Brown said he is devastated to close the doors of the Commercial Road store but said the business cannot afford to stay there.

The store is set to close on Saturday February 1and will become the latest casualty of the high street.

Jack Wills in The Arcade in Old Christchurch Road and the Beales department store are also holding closing down sales. Hawkins Bazaar in Poole is also closing.

Mr Brown said business rates are £68,000 per year and rent is £48,000 per year at the Hollywood Fancy Dress and Party Store, situated at The Triangle.

“We just can’t afford to stay here. We’ve been asking the council to review the rent for two years but they just keep fobbing us off.

“There won’t be any shops left soon - we need help and we need it quickly or town centres are going to be ghost towns.

“The government needs to take action to save shops. It is a vicious circle - the more shops that close, the fewer people that come into the town to the shops that are left.

“Footfall is down everywhere. People keep trying to talk it up but the reality is that it cannot go on like this.”

Signs are being displayed in eh shop window which say “closing down sale, everything must go, huge discounts, come in store” and final week, sale, 50 per cent off all marked prices.”

Hollywood has three other shops, in The Dolphin Centre at Poole, in Castle Lane West, Bournemouth and in Queensway, Southampton.

He said he fears the Dolphin Centre store is also at risk due to similar problems with business rates and rent.

Closing down signs have also gone up at gift and toy retailers Hawkins Bazaar in the Poole centre.

The chain has gone into administration for the second time in less than a decade.

Gift cards are being honoured, but only against recommended retail prices rather than discounted prices.

John Grinnell, the centre’s manager, said he would be “deeply sorry” to see Hawkin’s Bazaar close and wished its staff well.

“We are currently in discussions with several new retailers interested in opening at the Dolphin Shopping Centre and look forward to sharing those new prospects with shoppers in due course,” he added.