Closing down or just a sale?

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MYSTERY surrounds the future of a troubled Blackpool retailer following the start of its ‘closing down sale’.

Despite the name suggesting it is set to shut its doors, administrators denied TJ Hughes, in Bank Hey Street, is set to close.

A spokesman for Ernst and Young, the firm charged with handling the discount retailer while it is in administration, said there were no plans to cease trading.

He added: “What we are having is a stock clearance sale.

“We are trading the business as a going concern with a view to finding a buyer.”

It is understood there has been at least one expression of interest in the nationwide business.

The sale could land the firm in hot water though.

According to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, paragraph 15 of schedule one states it is an offence when: “Claiming that the trader is about to cease trading or move premises when he is not.”

Eileen Ormand, Blackpool’s Town Centre Business Improvement District manager said of the predicament: “We’re devastated it’s in administration, for the customers who love to shop there but also for the potential loss of jobs as well. And the thought of having such a big shop empty – it’s going to be difficult to fill it in this climate.”

The firm has 52 staff members.

Customers told The Gazette they hoped the store would stay open.

William Temperley, from Glasgow, said: “It would be missed if it went.

“It’s quite a good shop and it’s one I’ve used several times.”

Pam Jackson, from Thornton, added: “I wish we had some big names like this near us – it would be terrible if it went.”

And Frank Lyon, from Layton, said: “It would be terrible if it went – a huge hole in the High Street – especially after Woolworths went from the same shop.”

It is hoped that the Liverpool-based firm, founded in 1912, will be bought in its 57-store entirety.

More than 4,000 staff face an uncertain future while the search for a buyer goes on.