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Shopping centre called 'shambles' as bargain chain with 500 branches shuts down

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A SHOPPING centre has been branded a “shambles” as shops leave and a bargain chain with 500 branches shuts down.

Almost 50 per cent of the retail units lie empty in Connswater Shopping Centre in Belfast.

Almost 50 per cent of the retail units lie empty in Connswater Shopping Centre in Belfast

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Almost 50 per cent of the retail units lie empty in Connswater Shopping Centre in BelfastCredit: Alamy
And now Sports Direct is set to close in the coming months

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And now Sports Direct is set to close in the coming monthsCredit: Google

Shoe Zone and EE left before Christmas and the majority of the occupied units are being used by charity and community groups.

And now Brand Max/Sports Direct, one of the largest stores in the complex, is set to close in the coming months.

One staff member at the shopping centre told BelfastLive: “The past couple of months at Connswater Shopping Centre have been very tough and it was probably the worst Christmas period at our store that I can remember.

“I am worried that there is not enough in the shopping centre to bring customers in anymore, despite the retail park outside being constantly busy.

“The way things are going there is a real fear that retailers could turn up to work one day and find that the shopping centre has closed.”

And customers were quick to express their frustration and anger on social media.

One Facebook user wrote: “Place is an absolute shambles.”

Another said: “Get it back to the way it was and it won’t struggle.”

A third commented: “Wish someone would take it over and sort it out as it used to be a great place to go to.”

A spokesperson for Frasers Group commented: “It is with regret that we announce Sports Direct Connswater will be closing Spring 2024.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff for their hard work and dedication.

“Where possible, we are committed to finding new roles within the Group for staff.”

It’s not the first Sports Direct branch to close in the last few months.

The retailer, owned by Mike Ashley’s, closed its store in the Central Six Retail Park in Coventry in October.

It also launched a giant closing down sale before shutting its branch in Blackpool in November.

Meanwhile, Sports Direct Fitness, owned by Sports Direct, shut its Salisbury site for good on December 11 to the shock of members.

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