BUSINESSES say they could lose more than half their trade if Wilko in Richmond Gardens Shopping Centre closes next month.

The homewares retailer announced on Monday (January 10) that the store could close in February if more favourable lease terms could not be agreed with the landlord.

Owner of Leo Cafe, opposite Wilko, Leandro Spera said: “If they go it’s going to affect us a lot, we have our regular customers but when people go to Wilko they also come to us and vice versa.

“We expect maybe 50 to 60 per cent of trade gone if Wilko goes. It’s really scary.

“When I heard the news yesterday I tried to send emails to the landlord to see what’s going to happen.

Bournemouth Echo: LEO Cafe in Richmond Gardens Shopping CentreLEO Cafe in Richmond Gardens Shopping Centre

“Are they going to put another shop like Wilko there, B&M, The Range? If not all the small businesses are going to be affected.”

Wilko leaving the shopping centre will have a huge knock-on effect for businesses in the Richmond Gardens Shopping Centre.

'Simply shocked'

Co-owner of House of Stitch, Mr Sarikoc said: “When I found out the news I was simply shocked.

“If Wilko goes it’s going to be dead. If Lidl went it would be fine, another similar shop would come - but what sort of shop is going to replace Wilko?

Bournemouth Echo: House of Stitch in the Richmond Gardens Shopping CentreHouse of Stitch in the Richmond Gardens Shopping Centre

“My lease ends at the end of this year and I need to review it and talk to the landlord in the middle of the year. If Wilko is gone, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

With the future of the store hanging in the balance, all of the businesses in Richmond Gardens Shopping Centre are feeling the strain.

Samuel Baker, owner of Samuel James Jewellers, said: “It’s really worrying and really scary.

“It’s ridiculous, I don’t know what’s going to happen to be honest.

“It’s a massive unit, I don’t know if anyone else is going to fill it and I don’t understand why the landlord wouldn’t reduce the rent or maybe there is something else going on with Wilko.”

Bournemouth Echo: Samuel James Jewellers in Richmond Gardens Shopping CentreSamuel James Jewellers in Richmond Gardens Shopping Centre

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Hoping to avoid what would be a huge blow to the high street, Martin Davies, chairman of the Bournemouth Town Centre BID said: “We have been aware for some months of ongoing negotiations nationally between Wilko and its landlords and as far as we understand, that is the position regarding the store in the Richmond Gardens centre.

“Of course the closure of Wilko would be a blow and whilst rent levels are a matter between landlord and tenant we are very hopeful of a positive outcome.

Mr Davies added: “I think the negotiations apparently ongoing in this case is another really good example of how landlords, tenants, local authorities and partners need to work together to navigate these challenging times for town centres.”

A spokesman for national commercial property and investment company LCP, which manages Richmond Gardens Shopping Centre, said it has not received any formal notification from Wilko about the closure of the store and so is unable to comment.