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Afflecks on and on and on

More doubt and uncertainty in the Afflecks saga and what might happen if the store closes

Published on January 18th 2008.


Afflecks on and on and on

So the saga rumbles on and the uncertainty over Afflecks remains.

A meeting in Manchester Town Hall on Thursday morning resulted in a delay on any axe falling on the 26 year old shopping bazaar. Twenty or so stall holders, plus owners of the building, Bruntwood, and representatives of the leaseholders, Afflecks management company, attended the meeting. This ended with a decision to hold more talks next week.

Elaine Walsh should make it crystal clear whether she wants to carry on with Afflecks or pull out and let the place – and the 300 jobs associated with it – go.

So not much happened. The future of the centre is still in doubt after negotiations for a new lease stalled in mid-2007. The various parties don’t seem, in any material way closer to an agreement on the future of the shopping centre. So whilst it might be good to talk it would be better if a decision were made.

In particular it would help if the lease-holder and Afflecks’ founder, Elaine Walsh, started telling people exactly what she intends rather than increasing doubt by using go-betweens in the form of representatives. She should make it crystal clear whether she wants to carry on with Afflecks or pull out and let the place – and the 300 jobs associated with it – go.

Her representative, Graham Taylor, claimed that Bruntwood want to increase the rent and service charges and require the management to spend as much as half a million on renovations. If that’s the case and if that’s not going to happen the traders need to be put out of their misery sooner not later.

The doubt does Ms Walsh no favours. She's worked hard over the last quarter of a century to provide the city with a wonderful bit of retail individuality but we need to hear from her. Theories are growing about her motives. Especially as Bruntwood seem to be clear in their position.

Amidst all this maybe it’s time to consider life in Manchester without Afflecks. If you read the comments on this site then to some people a Manchester devoid of Afflecks, would be Dullsville. Almost pointless.

That’s simply not the case. Of course, teenagers would be bereft and inconsolable, and many, many other people would miss the place, but the fact is that Manchester is much bigger than one shopping centre. Whilst closure would be deeply regrettable, and a tragedy for the traders, the city would still remain the premier shopping destination in the North.

Simon Buckley is the owner of Rags to Bitches, the vintage fashion boutique on Tib Street up the road from Afflecks. “If it closes then it will be a terrible blow for the area but it needn’t spell the end of everything round here,” he told Confidential. “And if we can retain the essence of what Afflecks represents and spread some of the traders into other shops such as the empty premises along Oak Street and Copperas Street then that will reinforce the independent spirit of the Northern Quarter. It’s the traders you feel for here. But if the worst happens and Afflecks Palace closes then that could create a whole fresh dynamic. We are an entrepreneurial city after all.”

The Northern Quarter after years of being occasionally excellent needs to be full-time good. It needs three things to realise this: landlords who are sympathetic; a Council which provides the basics such as adequate street-lighting; and a police force which makes its presence felt – a few more bobbies on the beat would be nice. The death of Afflecks may bring these issues into sharper focus. And if, as Buckley says, we can spread a good number of the traders from Afflecks around the Northern Quarter then what seems to be the sad but inevitable climax to this saga need not be so final.

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41 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Jonathan Schofield - editorJanuary 18th 2008.

Jerry, that seems like a concrete proposal, something real. Give us a call at Confidential and we'll spread the word - 0161 228 0044.

AnonymousJanuary 18th 2008.

Its closer to 35 Shops, not 100 and nothing like 300 jobs.

an interesting thugJanuary 18th 2008.

whats happened to the mosaics????there is a posting on morrissey soloand there are a few concerned about the whereabouts of the said mosaics. www.morrissey-solo.com/…/1754202i… for one feel that the poxy yuppies of this country are so consumed with themselves that a place such afflecks are nothing more than a unwanted dog ****e on their shoes, its absolutely disgusting that these post code donuts can be brought up not to respect culture,soul and vibe, tut tut they should have done there dot com post code homework!!!!!

vickyJanuary 18th 2008.

keep aflecks open its a great place to shop n has fantasticly talented people who work there and make that shop unique.

NQ residentJanuary 18th 2008.

It's about time that crap hole closes down, get rid of some of the ugly freaks the inhabit the area by day. Please spare a thought for those of us that actually pay to live in this area. Good riddance, and please bring in a Harrods, that would be perfect!

Kim says...January 18th 2008.

The owner of Afflecks, Elaine Walsh is an honest, supporting landlord, who over the past 20 years has helped 100's of small businesses. Ii's unfair to blame her for the threat of losing Afflecks - Bruntwood is the driving force that holds all the power in this deal - open your eyes realist!!

ktfairyJanuary 18th 2008.

keep it open - read my mind and typed it quicker!

BrianJanuary 18th 2008.

as John Robb said on Channel M this morning Afflecks is the heart and soul of manchester. KEEP AFFLECKS OPEN!

anonJanuary 18th 2008.

Unfortunately the Northern Quarter is loosing its edge this would just cement the fact, it was the heart of Alt Manchester now its becoming the Yuppies vile inhabitance new frankly pants bars and a serious idiot exile from deansgate is frequenting a once down to earth area. Their is not enough individual creative places like common, and even Cords gone down hill since its changed hands and the twisted nerve crew have decamped to Dulcimer in Chorlton. Matt and Fred's still exists and hopefully will continue. I find all the new flats in that area most unsold empty and unaffordable buy the artists and creatives that moved there in the first place bringing in the Yuppies and designer trolly dollys, those who wouldn't know how to shop for real style from Aflects and prefer to shop in the likes of harrods and Harvey Nicks darling. Aflects is like a rights of passage for the young of manchester the people that start things start small and this is a place where that happens Trof fits in in fallow field but now seems to of found it self surrounded buy a load of new bars that have no character and exist just to fill the over spill from such 'fine' establishments as The Birdcage and the Printworks and this intern has filled it with yuppies and chavs. Before we know it The Night and Day will be shut down and Dry Bar become an establishment like the Living room or Yates's or something. If you close one of these places then the Heart of Manchester will slowly be eaten individuality and sub culture will be sold only out of hand of H&M and Topshop which says it all these places turn individual ideas into something everyone wears. Wheres the fun in that when you are a young person looking for an Identity wasn't it the kinks that sung I'M NOT LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE' where else can you buy a fluro top that says if you say new rave Ill kill you, a full-length black leather trench coat a pair of 80s sunglasses and a Japanese manga skirt.

MabJanuary 18th 2008.

Afflecks CANNOT be closed, it's an integral part of Manchester - I've been shopping there for years and it's the best shopping place ever, especially for us people who like things a little different.The goth shops are wonderful and I NEED the Hello Kitty shop to stay!The Northern Quarter will lose its charm without Afflecks, I can imagine the scenario - Afflecks goes, then The Arcade, then Vinyl Exchange, then Forbidden Planet....SAVE OUR SHOPS!

RebeccaWhoJanuary 18th 2008.

I dont know much about this sort of thing, but can we apply for some sort of culture grant?? How about the lottery??

Kim says...January 18th 2008.

The owner of Afflecks, Elaine Walsh is an honest, supporting landlord, who over the past 20 years has helped 100's of small businesses. Ii's unfair to blame her for the threat of losing Afflecks - Bruntwood is the driving force that holds all the power in this deal - open your eyes realist!!

realistJanuary 18th 2008.

Its simple - The store houlders need to pay higher rents, simple as that, building works costs money. If the renovations arent done to the property it is unlikely to meet health and safety standars and be closed down anyway. The owners of the building need to fund the repairs, business is business and they are not going to fund it on their own just because its a "Manchester Institution". The rental is still going to be way lower than may of the prime locations within town. People need to be realistic and not narrow minded and think that it is all the owners fault, sounds to me like Elaine Walsh is being a tad immature about the whole situation and hiding behind her representatives and using the media to whip the city into a frenzy. I love the place and have been going there for 10+ years (its not as good as it used to be!!) and would love to see it carry on trading but at the end of the day, using the media to cast a shadow over the building owners like Elaine Walsh appears to be doing is the wrong way to go about it, she is doing more harm than good. Negotiate a lease and stop stalling!!, in effect she is forcing the stall owners out by not getting matters cleared up. it would appear that she still wants to pay rental rates from 26 years ago!!!! It snot goign to happen.

billybigballsJanuary 18th 2008.

re: NQ ResidentYou are everything that is wrong with this City. You only moved to the Northern Quarter because you thought it was a desirable address to have, without actually considering what the Northern Quarter is.Afflecks Palace has probably been a part of the NQ a lot longer than you and hopefully it will remain there long after you and your sort have upped sticks and moved onto the next wannabe footballers wives hangout.If you think a shop like Harrod's will fit right into the scheme of things in the NQ, you obviously haven't even opened your eyes and seen what current retailers inhabit the space.

City AgentJanuary 18th 2008.

The NQ is one of the most popular and sought after places to live in the City Centre, its popular because it has a soul it has character and Affleck's is significant ingredient that helps define it. You won't save the building, Bruntwood will do what they want with it. But the suggestion that "Charlie" made is a great one. I for one would be happy to support a council led initiative to provide an affordable commercial base for Manchester's up and coming entrepreneurial talent. Meanwhile NQ resident should put his or her flat on the market and move out - it will sell fast because people love the NQ for what it is. Take it from me we can't get enough on the books to sell........

AnonymousJanuary 18th 2008.

Mrs Walsh would like to keep Afflecks open but unless anyone has £500,000 to spare it is doubtful that she can. This is the apparently the amount that Bruntwoods wants from the management for maintenance to the building. If the building was in that amount of disrepair surely HSE would have closed it down long ago?Anyone got any spare change?

JerryJanuary 18th 2008.

I have already offered an entire floor of Sunshine Studios to fit around 15 to 20 of the Afflecks traders to save and preserve the heart and soul of Afflecks Palace. It's just round the corner so hopefully if they do have to leave they will all move in and all the traders will be able to carry on what they are doing!

AnonymousJanuary 18th 2008.

Ha, look who's paying the wages of the editor. Bruntwoods advert at the top of the page. Are there any uncorrupted news sources left?

grey kidJanuary 18th 2008.

NQ resident - nice sarcasm. Bit TOO dry almost, some people might think you're serious. Honestly, I know you'll find that hard to believe...but people with attitudes that idiotic do actually exist! Nice one for picking up on it and parodying them so accurately though.

jadeJanuary 18th 2008.

afflecks palace is the only place in manchester that succeeds in convincing me it has soul, the atmosphere when you enter the place tells you instantly, that this is a place filled with culture and individuality DO NOT KILL THAT! there are enough places in manchester that comprimise the city having anything unique and afflecks fought this and won everytime!if you let that building go,you kill one of the very few parts of manchester that moved anyone.its a legend the smiths, the hacienda, afflecks palace. two of those three examples have gone,but god where they awsome. dont loose the latter!!x

Mohamed Al-FayedJanuary 18th 2008.

Believe it Mr Billybigballs, I can now confirm that we will be moving into Manchester's Northern Quarter. The shop will open on March 31st.

Anthony McCaulJanuary 18th 2008.

Afflecks' has to continue - it's a Manchester institution and a Northern Quarter icon. It's time for Bruntwood and Elaine Walsh to sit down together meaningfully, move forward and take notice of the traders and all the people of Manchester - save Afflecks' and get this sorted.

CharlieJanuary 18th 2008.

In reply to 'Dick' : Not sure that I agree with your first point. You may take my 'vie' too literally. Of course a city can not 'Vie' with anything silly. It is not a sentient being. You are also wonderfully patronising Dick. I was of the opinion that Manchester was the UK's '2nd City' - or should be at anyrate. mis-informed that I clearly must be. It surely depends on what one is measuring. Population size, financial contribution local business makes to the economy, the arts, sport, etc. I don't doubt that a lot of towns and cities have units similar to 'Afflecks'. That was not my point. With my clearly limited geographical knowledge of the UK I was under the impression that for a city the size of Manchester (wherever it ranks -but let's say for arguments sake - in the top 3 in the UK ?)the NQ is unique - shops, people, ambience. Afflecks is integral to area and has contributed and continues to contribute to the talent pool. Or rather not to be too literal for you - the people IN Afflecks contribute to the area.There are a number of smaller towns around the UK that have odd streets or random shops but I am not aware of a place the size of Manchester that has managed to hang-on to a unique district like the NQ, to the same extent, outside London. That is why I think Afflecks should (hopefully has at the time of writing)survive. I believe we are in agreement on this point. I sincerely wish that the signs that appeared a year or two ago in the area saying something like 'Northern Quarter World Heritage Site' were true (please don't tell me they were real otherwise I will look a 'Dick' Dick).Why don't the local NW tourist board or the 'City fathers' promote areas and finacially support initiatives in these kinds areas ? Infact why don't I run for Mayor.....

SineadJanuary 18th 2008.

Well I first visited Afflecks when I was 15 ( some 21 yrs ago ) and when I am in Manchester I still visit it. We lost the Corn Exchange ( now The Triangle ) to the Manchester Bombers, so let's not lose Afflecks too!!!

Another NQ residentJanuary 18th 2008.

I think there are plenty more NQ properties that could do with a re-gena and are in a prime location - renovate these first if demand for property is so high!! Take afflecks away and the demand for the area may go with it.

CharlieJanuary 18th 2008.

The whole 'n1/4'is unique in the UK. The other Cities that vie for 2nd or 3rd largest UK City status do not come anywhere near with the variety of shops and the opportunity provided to young and not so young entrepreneurial talent. Afflecks currently provides 'hothouse starter units' for these would-be Wayne Hemmingway's et al, without the massive risk associated with taking-on a fully fledged lease and the commitment for 5/10/15 years plus and the very real risk of bankrupcy associated with this.If Afflecks were to close, perhaps Manchester City Council would be willing to purchase another building (Steveson Square area maybe ?) and create a council initiative to encourage these future business people for the general good of the City. I dont know the number of people that the shopping in the Northern Quarter generates, however, as a resident there,I would guess that it is substantial becuase of the unique nature of the area. Is Afflecks worth saving ? surely it has to be if atall possible. If not maybe the City Council could be encouraged to maintain the momentum this debate seems to have generated and become involved in ''Afflecks II - son of Affleck''

DavidJanuary 18th 2008.

Not 2 days ago I went to affleck's to buy a dream catcher which I found and bought. I bet that I wouldn't of found it in the Arndale. Which is why Afflecks shouldn't be closed down!

JimJanuary 18th 2008.

Is asking for a new lease not a fairly self explanitory way of saying you want to continue. If you knew Elaine and everything she has gone through over the years to keep Afflecks openyou would be ashamed of yourself for even questioning her motives. She isn't a media hungry igotist,just a good, kind person who isn't in it for profit. Her relationship with the landlords is a private one. What right does an entire city have to know her thoughts just because they enjoy visiting her creation?

ktfairyJanuary 18th 2008.

to NQ Res - if you don't like the people in the NQ why the hell did you move there? Unless you have lived there over 26 years you have bought this situation or yourself so put up or ship out!

DickJanuary 18th 2008.

"The whole 'n1/4'is unique in the UK. The other Cities that vie for 2nd or 3rd largest UK City status do not come anywhere near with the variety of shops and the opportunity provided to young and not so young entrepreneurial talent." - Charlie, you can't really vie for being a larger city, and the existence of Affleck's or not doesn't have any marked effect upon that. Leeds has the Corn Exchange, Birmingham has Oasis; every decent city in the country has a similar setup to Affleck's. They also offer breaks for those with a start up dream. Unfortunately, the North West is too busy being 15 years behind everywhere else and building big shopping facilities in it's city centres, leading to the loss of Liverpool's Quiggins and nearly Affleck's. If Liverpool and Manchester City Councils spent more time concentrating on making their city better than shouting about how much better they are than everywhere else, then maybe they'd get more done.

BevJanuary 18th 2008.

KEEP AFLEX OPEN!!! Its a great place and I still love shopping there....15yrs on!

TomcatJanuary 18th 2008.

The longer it goes on the more damage is done. Both sides need to talk and be open.Ms Walsh is not doing herself any favors acting as she is. But if Afflicks closes can the last one to leave the NQ please turn out the light?

Jonathan Schofield - editorJanuary 18th 2008.

We've got a story going up about this on Monday.

PandoraJanuary 18th 2008.

I have had enough of all the great independant and unusual shops being closed down to make way for new apartments or high srtreet shops that I amvery certain we have enough of. Manchester used to be different to the other city's thats why people came here. What are they going to come to Manchester for now? The food, the rows upon rows of the same booring shops they have everywhere else? Of course there not! That is what I have got to say on this subject.

DescartesJanuary 18th 2008.

Do we need bobbies on the beat? Manchester has a massive CCTV presence and (if police PR is to be believed) an excellent rapid response time. We're one of the most filmed cities in the UK (which has more CCTV cameras per capita than anywhere else in the world). Bobbies on the beat is great visually but in reality would they be that effective?

realistJanuary 18th 2008.

You obviously know sod all about current market values then do you Kim. Why have we heard nothing from her?? I am impartial, its got nothing to do with opening my eyes i am looking at it from both angles, i am just not as narrow minded as some. Are you a store owner by any chance????????

BenfordJanuary 18th 2008.

NQ resident - spare a thought for you living in the area? I would do if you didn't have such a chip on your shoulder.Does Afflecks on its own devalue the NQ in any way?Does it balls.Afflecks was already there when you would have moved in, so why didn't you know about all the "ugly freaks" then?Stick your Harrods up your arse, I'd prefer Afflecks and its history any day of the week.

keep it openJanuary 18th 2008.

in response to NQ resident...... Why the HELL did you move to the NQ if you're so offended by the people that hang out there??? They're not doing anyone any harm. You're as bad as the fools that moved near Night & Day & then almost got it shut down because they didn't like the noise. Go get yourself a flat near Panacea if you want to look at model types.Personally I haven't shopped in Afflecks for yrs but I do strongly believe that it is because of fools like 'NQ resident' that our towns & cities are becoming carbon copies of each other & therefore we need to fight to keep something so individual open.

JonathanJanuary 18th 2008.

Hey Mr Bleeding Anonymous, I'm the editor and Bruntwood do not, in any way, pay my wages, the publisher does. The media unless they're in some Soviet controlled state or have a licence fee need to make money through advertisers. That's how it's been since the eighteenth century sir. But we still have editorial independence. Get a bit of reach, 200k plus readers per month helps, and guess what? Magic happens, people want to advertise with you. Fact one, Confidential would love Afflecks to survive. Fact two, we need to know what the management company thinks so we can all decide if there are goodies and baddies involved.

an interesting thugJanuary 18th 2008.

many thanks for your speedy reply, i wish all editors i have worked with were as quick as youreslves!

mr benJanuary 18th 2008.

build more apartments - thsi is manchester!

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