THE new owners of Bennetts Electrical will not reopen the Bury St Edmunds store because its rent is too expensive.
Lowestoft-based Hughes Electrical has bought part of the Bennetts business and assets, which went into administration on March 10.
It will reopen six stores in two to three weeks, to trade under the Bennetts name, as well as restarting Bennetts Online. But managing director Robert Hughes, who lives in Bury, told the Bury Free Press on Wednesday: “We were keen to get the Bury St Edmunds store because it’s a good location in a nice town. We looked at putting both Bennetts and Hughes in there but then we found there’s a massive rent increase on the building.
“The rent will rise to about £170,000 a year. It’s the sort of rent you’d pay in a much bigger town. It’s why that estate only has national companies.”
But he stressed Hughes will honour customer orders placed in all 16 Bennetts stores and online before that company went into administration.
Mr Hughes also promised: “Customers and suppliers need reassurance at this difficult time. As one of the country’s largest and most successful electrical retailers, we will be able to do that.
“While we may have no legal responsibility to do so, we will make it a priority to ensure all unfulfilled orders at the time of the administrators’ appointment are resolved.”
Hughes Electrical says the six stores will ‘create’ 100 jobs with priority given to the 228 Bennetts staff made redundant, even if they worked in other branches.
The administrators PKF is seeking other buyers for the 10 stores Hughes is not taking on.
Matt Howard, joint administrator and corporate recovery partner at PKF, said: “It is regrettable that we have had to make redundancies but a lack of cash in the administration meant it was not possible to continue to trade the business and meet ongoing wage costs for all staff. We are confident that the Bennetts name will trade well from reopened stores.”