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Readers react as Bon Accord Centre goes into administration

Readers react to news of Bon Accord Centre going into administration.
Readers react to news of Bon Accord Centre going into administration.

News of Aberdeen’s Bon Accord Centre collapsing into administration has sparked a reaction from readers on social media.

The Press and Journal reported the news yesterday (Aug 31) and readers’ comments have been flooding in.

Administrators of the shopping mall have insisted it’s “business as usual” as new buyers are sought.

Here’s what you think

Posting on Facebook, Louise Macleod said: “Such a shame used to love working and shopping in the centre but all the good shops are gone and not much left to go in for think they’ve made a big mistake when they changed the food court.”

Sharon Russell replied: “Agreed. Food court was fantastic and different.”

Isla Stewart said: “I know that city centres are changing but this makes me sad. There’s a great team running this centre in Aberdeen, lots of awesome people working in the shops within the centre. People trying their best to adapt to changes in shopping habits. I hope so much, for everyone who works there, that something good happens here.”

David Cruickshank: “No wonder, was in town shopping yesterday, firstly I couldn’t believe how quiet the city centre was including all shopping centres.

“Secondly, despite trying to support the local economy, there was just such a poor/limited amount of shops and selection, so had to come home and buy many things online, vicious circle.”

Andrew Macdonald: “Maybe if people used the shops….can use all the excuses you like but ultimately it’s the fault of the public for giving up on shops and buying everything online.”

Numerous shop closures

The collapse comes after a very difficult two years of trading during which anchor store John Lewis failed to re-open and several chain stores either also failed or closed shop in Aberdeen.

Nevertheless the mall’s management made efforts to keep shoppers coming in with pop up shops and an indoor market for local traders.

Yvonne Ferguson: “That’s very sad. The Bon Accord Centre used to be a great place to shop, why on earth can’t they open up the whole of Union Street?

“Union Square is the place to shop now NO empty shops!!!”

To which Kelly Scott replied: “Yvonne Ferguson union square was the death of union street.”

Moira Fearn said: “Get some shops into the units without extortionate rents and bring some life back to it. Cheaper parking as well or free 1 day a week.”

Bryan Sivewright: “Knock it down and John Lewis open George Street again and make an open garden space lower rents etc get city centre vibrant again.”

Rocco Gunner replied: “My sentiments exactly. George Street and St Nicholas Street were a hive of activity before this was built.”

Cash flow problems to blame

Administrators said two Guernsey-based companies, Aberdeen Retail 1 Limited and Aberdeen Retail 2 Limited, the owners and operators of the Bon Accord shopping centre, have been placed in administration.

They added administration was caused by “unsustainable cash flow problems stemming from the ongoing impact of the Covid pandemic, rising operational costs and intense retail competition”.

Robert Gordon University senior lecturer in retail and marketing Andrew Turnbull said: “Bon Accord has a problem coming at them from three directions.

“Out of town/edge of town centres doing well, given cost of fuel and hybrid working combining to make city centre travel less desirable.

Andrew Turnbull, senior lecturer in retail marketing at Robert Gordon University. Pic by Chris Sumner

“Union Square offering a bigger, better, diversity and variety of shops.  Parking is also on the flat, compared to Bon Accord multi-level and perceived as less accessible.

“Lastly, travel to other locations out of Aberdeen such as Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“Add in issues such as Covid-19 pandemic, cost of living and energy crisis, online advances, and it’s not good news!”

Should the city council do more?

Reader Martin Hulse commented: “Aberdeen is just an Absolute shambles of a City & it’s not getting any better it’s getting worse because of the people in charge of Aberdeen who are Absolutely clueless & have no Ambition or vision but it’s an Aberdeen thing.”

Neil Diack said: “Another NAIL in Aberdeen’s COFFIN!!!!”

Scott Gammie said: “Said this for years now, our local councils set the rates/rent etc. We are paying 2 to 3 times more than most of the country which is ridiculous and greedy on their part.

“It’s simple maths for me – reduce these costs and business owners will return and we would hopefully revert back to a busy city centre.”

Opportunity for council to get involved?

Councillor Deena Tissera is calling on the council to work with the receivers of the Bon Accord Centre in order for the council to shape the George Street masterplan.

She said: “It is disappointing that the Bon Accord Centre has gone into administration especially when you consider they had huge plans to expand their offering to Aberdeen.

“I have today written to the chief executive asking her to ensure that the interest of the council is noted with those administering the receivership of the Bon Accord Centres affairs.

Aberdeen City councillor Deena Tissera says all abortion clinics should have buffer zones in Aberdeen. Picture by Kami Thomson.
Aberdeen City councillor Deena Tissera. Picture by Kami Thomson.

“Whilst it is frustrating that the Bon Accord Centre has gone into receivership there is now an opportunity for the council to work with the receiver as part of the George Street Masterplan.

“I have no doubt that if the council can secure an interest in the Bon Accord Centre at a reasonable price it would help significantly to helping with the George Street masterplan.

“Many residents have seen the Bon Accord Centre as a stopper to a vibrant George Street, now is the time for the council to look at all options of how best we deliver for the citizens of Aberdeen and that could involve looking at what the council can do with the Bon Accord Centre to bring back vibrancy to the once booming George Street.”

An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said: “Whilst this disappointing news for the city centre, we welcome the message that it is business as usual as administrators seek new owners.

“Aberdeen continues to have much to offer shoppers and visitors, and the City Centre Masterplan is exploring ways to further enhance the city as a place to live, work, visit, and invest.”