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Is it goodbye Afflecks?

Can the Palace be on the way out?

Published on January 7th 2008.

Is it goodbye Afflecks?

Afflecks Palace might close very shortly. John Chapman, the surveyor fielding all the enquiries on behalf of Afflecks Palace management company, has issued a very worrying letter. This states that unless Bruntwood, who own the building, start talking about the future of the site before 19 January then traders will be given a week to leave.

It’s scandalous. People have their livelihoods tied up in their shops here. We have to plan for the future.

Thus by the end of the month one of Manchester prime retail assets, famous across the globe may close. Afflecks has more than 100 traders dealing in everything from new designer clothes, through dance, fetish and retro wear, to antiques, knick-knacks, hairdresser and cafés.

The deadlock, between the shopping bazaar and property giant, Bruntwood, lies over the future tenancy of the building particularly a new lease. Afflecks claim that notice served on Bruntwood for a tenancy request notice has been ignored which must mean that they don’t wish Afflecks to continue trading on the site. The dark spectre of yet more flats rears its ugly head.

An Afflecks stall-holder, who didn’t wish to be named, said: “It’s scandalous. People have their livelihoods tied up in their shops here. We have to plan for the future. It’s causing a lot of fear and uncertainty. And can Manchester really afford to lose a place like this? Afflecks created the Northern Quarter. What does it say about the city if it closes?”

“Problem is,” she continued, “I have no idea what’s going on. And we’ve not known for months. I know a lot of us have been looking for other sites because of the situation. I’m very confused. I’m not even sure who the good guys are and who are the bad guys anymore. Is it the management or Bruntwood who are holding out over the lease?”

In a statement to Confidential, property giant Bruntwood said: “Afflecks Palace management company have a legal right to continue to occupy the building and to a new lease. All decisions regarding the future will be at the discretion of the Afflecks Palace management company.”

This implies any future agreement lies entirely with Afflecks Palace.

Wherever the fault lies the impasse casts doubt on the future of one of Manchester’s most recognised modern institutions.

AFTER writing this story we got a fuller statement from Bruntwood. We also phoned John Chapman representing Afflecks Palace. We received no response. This is the Bruntwood statement.

'We have been surprised to read some of the recent press reports aboutAfflecks Palace and we share the concerns of stall holders.

'Our direct relationship is not with stall holders but with Elaine Walsh whotrades as Afflecks Palace and our understanding has been that she wascommitted to renewing her lease.

'Having already offered a new lease, we remain focused on finding a solution but this is dependant on Elaine Walsh’s commitment to continue to run her own business.

In the meantime Afflecks Palace has a legal right to continue to occupy thebuilding and to a new lease and contrary to recent reports, from ourperspective January 19, has no significance.'

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

big mikeJanuary 7th 2008.

No, no gun to her head !But what happens if your water go's off, you have no power, and the bills are to high to pay ?????????????????????????????????????????? THINK.

See senseJanuary 7th 2008.

Bruntwood, Chris Oglesby in particular, are the pioneers of ensuring that local businesses get ground floor space even when they don't have deep pockets like, for example, Subway. Chris Ogilsby owns nearly 25% of the commercial space in Manchester, i don't think he is sat there, rubbing his hands thinking of adding a million or so to his £600 million fortune whilst getting every Mancunian baying for his blood. That comment from his firm makes me believe that the tricky ones here are the Afflecks Management team. Something smells rotten and it isn't just their toilets.

SpawnMeister666January 7th 2008.

Lets hope the people responsible for this 'confusion' can get off their butts and sort it out once and for all.Losing Afflecks would mean losing a huge centre of creativity, and send out all the wrong messages. Whilst I have nothing against flats being built, on the basis that the more people there are in the area the better it will be for everyone that lives and works in the area, I think this is one place that needs to be saved from the developers.

tantrumJanuary 7th 2008.

Why is it crazy to say that the only reason to close is because of the lease? Do you have a business in Afflecks? Do you know the management? Elaine is fully committed to keeping the place open, but given all the flak she's getting from the public, the landlords, the press & her own tenants I wouldn't be surprised if she did wash her hands of the whole thing.

vampsintheJanuary 7th 2008.

Hmm. I'm not remotely surprised about this news. Over the years I've watched down-at-heel areas, which have been havens for small independent businesses, become huge money making cash-pots. It wasn't long ago the Corn Exchange became the laughable 'triangle' and it's admittedly temporary replacement, The Colosseum become a rather charmless block of flats. Troble is, these des-res' rely on the character of the shops and the people who frequent them. Goodbye Afflecks? Then say goodbye to a star attraction for Manchester...

greigJanuary 7th 2008.

I don’t have a business in afflecks or know the management (do you?) but I wouldn’t be surprised if things aren’t quite as they seem. Bruntwood who own the building Afflecks are in, are a big business but they’re also a local one who have done a lot for this city. Corporate bashing is very easy when we don’t know the individuals involved but, I have a hunch there’s much more to this situation than big business flexing their muscles.

Manchester VisitorJanuary 7th 2008.

I love coming over to Manchester for shopping, all the way from West Yorkshire but I haven't been to Afflecks in years as I used to find it gloomy, dirty and unfriendly. I loved the Colosseum and that was a real loss.

RecdenJanuary 7th 2008.

Maybe the management of afflecks has had enough and wants out? It’s easy to point at a corporate but until this week they haven’t really said much.Call me cynical - but all comment seems to have come from stall holders who quite rightly feel nervous but presumably get all their info from afflecks bosses. Could afflecks bosses be using their traders to play a pr game?

CLLR.PAT KARNEYJanuary 7th 2008.

We are keeping a close eye on the situation.Afflecks must continue Pat

JinkiesJanuary 7th 2008.

Vamp' I get your point but your well off the mark on facts. The Corn Exchange, Afflecks and Colosseum were all open concurrently, and Corn Exchange didn't 'become' the Triangle - it was half blown up in the bomb and then never reopened. The Colosseum similarly failed business wise and then closed and then sat dormant for years - of course it's been turned into flats. I love Afflects but I've not spent money in there for years - few people I know have. Why aren't we pushing for it to become a recognised cultural landmark and get it black listed in terms of development into apartments?

tantrumJanuary 7th 2008.

Well Secret Squirrel what insightful comments, thank you so much. Do you know in all this time nobody considered that the lease might go up...duh! Have you been reading the above posts? This point has been made ad nauseum and is the whole reason for the closure. If the proposal put forward by the landlords for the new lease was reasonable this situation would not be occurring! No-one expects things to remain the same and contrary to common belief Afflecks Palace has never been the cheapest option when it comes to actual floor space, there are retail outlets out there that are cheaper. It is only when combined with other aspects of running a business that we see exactly how wonderful Afflecks is.If you had an idea for a business but did not know if it would work, would you like to try it out in a safe environment to see how it goes where you can leave if it doesn't work? Or would you commit to a long lease on premises which necessitate solicitors to negotiate fees, utility & business rate bills, insurance bills, service charges etc?Would you like to face the realities of most small businesses on a typical street in Manchester, with drunks and drug dealers on the doorstep, vandalism and graffitti, cowardly street warders running away when you need their help, massive overheads and extortionists telling you what you can & can't sell?Hmm difficult choice.

tantrumJanuary 7th 2008.

Well of course not - that was not my point! A lot of shops in Afflecks would not fit into a market atmosphere, otherwise we would move to the Arndale Market which offers a very good range of diverse products etc already. There is also the craft centre on Tib Street and plenty of farmers markets in the summer. If it ain't broke don't fix it - Afflecks has found a successful mix which has kept it going and improving for 25 years, the issue with the lease is the only reason for it to close.

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2008.

Sorry, I wasn't intending to be defamatory. As I'm not an important person my name isn't that important and as this site offers anonimity I'll take it.

ELmo!January 7th 2008.

Afflecks is the heart and soul of manchester. my mother use to own a shop in there when i was a child. I love the place and the people who make it so wonderful. How can you close down a place that brings in so many new people into manchester?

StephenJanuary 7th 2008.

I wouldn't be sad to see Afflecks go. The concept behind the space is valid but the building is grotty and the shopping experience is rubbish. I personally feel that its had its day- it hasn't changed for 25 years! If Afflecks where to close surely Manchester would find a new home for these businesses. I think Manchester is crying out for a good market/farmers market which could include retailers found in Afflecks.

WorkshyJanuary 7th 2008.

Cllr.Pat karney seems like all mouth and no trousers, if he saves Afflecks i'll eat mine

donald trumpJanuary 7th 2008.

more apartments hooray...

TwatJanuary 7th 2008.

Anonymous, we're all VIPS on the guestlist of life.

secret squirrelJanuary 7th 2008.

What are the chances that the new lease will be offered at the same rate as the old one? (even taking in to account standard rent review increases every three or five years) Not a cat in hells...If it has gone up significantly (quite likely) then the whole viability of the management company becomes untenable unless they pass their increased costs on to the stallholders via their rent. Whilst I have sympathies it is standard practise and they have had 25 years to think about it...;-)

StephenJanuary 7th 2008.

tantrum, i wasn't suggesting the building be reused as a farmers market. Just that Manchester could do with a good independent market offering a wide range of food and goods.

cllr.pat karneyJanuary 7th 2008.

At least I always have the bottle to send postings in my name.I have spoken to some of the key players today.The deadlines quoted in the MEN are not accurate.The sum total is that lease negotiations are going on---when either side can't get their way they run to the media.Its the way of the world.All the rest of us are on the sidelines but important people have taken my calls today Pat

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2008.

Rob i could kiss you.

sarahJanuary 7th 2008.

U can't close afflecks palace. It's one of the best places you can go in manchester. A place where there is a variety of stuff to choose from.

MikeJanuary 7th 2008.

Dear anonymousHow far up inside the Bruntwood machines back door are you to write such poo?Anybody who has one ounce of a brain can look at what is going on here and figure out that it could not benefit Mrs Walsh (Afflecks Palace ) to want to “put fear into the heads of the stallholders” as you say(THAT PAY RENT) that keeps Afflecks going! 25 years Afflecks has been a flagship for Manchester, built up by a couple who had a vision of something different for our city.Afflecks Palace has always been a place were new business had a chance to grow, at a cost that would allow them to get a head start (NOT FOR MAXIMUM PROFFIT). No! Afflecks is not the corporate company wishing to reclaim one of its first owned property’s for massive profits in a back door deal with some other developer.Tanks for pointing that out for us all Mr or Mrs Anonymous.

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2008.

Afflecks Palace has long been the oddest and most interesting collection of shops and cafes. It would be a great shame if it were to close.

J.C.January 7th 2008.

If we step away from all the hearsay about leases, terms and conditions etc. which the person on the street knows nothing about, surely everyone can see that it would be a huge loss to Manchester if Affleck's Palace was to close for any reason. Whether you like the place and shop there yourself or not, it is a landmark, an institution, a place of huge cultural value to the city. I am proud of Manchester but we have already lost a number of buildings that were iconic; can I add the Hacienda to the list? I'm pretty sure that we're all aware of issues behind how this building came to be demolished. Regardless of whether we should move with the times, we still need to maintain elements of what makes Manchester different, and I'm afraid, more apartments and buildings like the Beetham Tower don't do that for me. There should be a place for all tastes in the city centre and, although I don't shop there, it is clear that a lot of people do. I would be saddened and ashamed if Afflecks closed. This is our city and we should stick up for the people and businesses that make it as rich and diverse as it is.

greigJanuary 7th 2008.

None of us really know what’s going on and we all want afflecks to stay but to say a lease is the only reason it may close is crazy. All businesses have to adapt and a lease is only one of things they have to juggle. Maybe recden's right and bosses have had enough?

tantrumJanuary 7th 2008.

Thanks Rob, you've said it all for me, brilliantly! Grieg, show me a post where I've been "bashing" the landlords?I do know the individuals concerned when it comes to the management of Afflecks as my partner & I have a business in Afflecks. We've been in Manchester now for over 10 years, in shopping centres & in a stand alone shop unit on a main street, and over this time we've had plenty of experience of landlords and big businesses with shareholders to appease.Bruntwoods has nothing to lose, with Afflecks in situ they have a guaranteed income with remarkable little responsibility. With Afflecks vacant I'm sure they would have no trouble changing the use of the building and either selling the site or as previously suggested joining up with a company such as Urban Splash to build offices or apartments.

robJanuary 7th 2008.

Funny how Bruntwood claim to be in the same position information-wise as the stallholders.And funny how the Afflecks management after 25 years have suddenly apparently decided to become incompetent!Could there be a trace of disengenousness to the Bruntwood response?It would be wise to reflect on who would benefit from the current situation.Would it be Elaine Welsh,for whom all uncertainties lead to a loss of stallholders and therefore a loss of income,and for whom the end of Afflecks Palace holds absolutely NO financial benefits?Or might it be Bruntwood,who stand to regain vacant posession of a building that freindly urban developers are just gagging to get their mitts on?Also,could any councillor outline any way in which they have acted to forstall the end of Afflecks? For example by minmising any rise in a markets license fee?And whether anything should be read intothe recent appointment of a new high sheriff of Manchester?

walterJanuary 7th 2008.

the n/4 should be protected, and so should the people, pubs, shops, designers that are attracted there. the northern pub is a poor offering and will, no doubt, not last long.

tantrumJanuary 7th 2008.

Just a couple of points:1) Bruntwoods may have offered Afflecks management a new lease but under what terms? Higher rates & service charges? We can only speculate. If the lease had remained tenable surely Elaine would have accepted it? The point of Afflecks is to help small businesses start up and grow in an affordable, safe and supportive environment. Higher rents means fewer tenants or higher prices for goods. From the comments from Bruntwood it seems that a lease was put together to suit their terms, basically saying Elaine can take it or leave it, neatly shifting any blame for the closure from themselves onto her shoulders.2) Neither Afflecks management or Bruntwoods have been "running to the media" - any contact has been initiated by the traders themselves until todays statement from Bruntwoods.3) The Coliseum shops were viable businesses, let down by very bad management and false promises. Several are still open at other sites today - including Afflecks.

greigJanuary 7th 2008.

None of us really know what’s going on and we all want afflecks to stay but to say a lease is the only reason it may close is crazy. All businesses have to adapt and a lease is only one of things they have to juggle. Maybe recden's right and bosses have had enough?

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2008.

Affleck's place should be SAVED!The place is unique!

Jonathan - editorJanuary 7th 2008.

Anonymous, come on, we have an N.B. below which clearly states nothing defamatory so we weeded out that first line.

Kid DiscoJanuary 7th 2008.

Isn't it years since the tenants at Afflects had anything resembling a rent increase? If they're priced out of a prime Manchester location is that anyone's fault apart from the businesses for not being viable?

RobdJanuary 7th 2008.

Is there anything in the rumour I've heard about Stephenson square becoming the St Annes Square of the northern Quarter??

lunatic pandoraJanuary 7th 2008.

I'm never going to Manchester again if Afflecks closes. What's the point? Just the same boring faceless shops that you can find anywhere. I absolutely love the place and I think it's a shame that corporate greed has to destroy anything individual and worth having. The people who would be rich enough to buy the flats are also rich enough to commute to Manchester if they want to work there so badly. It's not even like it's in a good cause. Leave Afflecks alone!

robJanuary 7th 2008.

"see sense" might,as I say,like to consider who would stand to benefit from Affecks Palace closing and if it would in any way benefit the management I would like to hear how.Or indeed who would have benefitted from recieving rent on a large city centre property without the curtailments inherent in a lease.It might also be apt to consider that one of the concerned parties might have been constrained from revealing the conduct of the other.Now do you think that the power in this situation might be held by the multi-millionaire company or the very small limited one? And which has the upper hand in how they are portrayed by the Manchester media? The one that the Manchester Evening News decided to declare their "business of the year"?Could be!

LouJanuary 7th 2008.

havent we had a VERY similar article to this before and nothing came of it. There is a huge facebook group dedicated to "saving afflecks" which has ben open since march last year.

lunatic pandoraJanuary 7th 2008.

Anyone that could want to get rid of a place with such an amazing lift needs their head checking. Long live Afflecks!

robJanuary 7th 2008.

Corporate-bashing becomes even easier when you DO know the individuals involved.There is absolutely more to this than big business flexing their muscles-it's big business flexing their muscles and then trying to shift the blame for the impact of their behaviour onto individuals who do not have the financial,legal,council or media resources available to defend thems elves.And this is not a "grassy knoll" style abstract conspiracy goof-it happens all the time.Bruntwoods wanted to keep the palace dangling on a string with the option to give notice to quit at a time not constrained by a lease.This would free them up time to determine the most lucrative way to continue with the property while not affecting their income until closure-as they would still recieve the same rent and associated charges.The uncertainty for stallholders would of course mean many would leave as you cannot plan ahead and maintain stock levels without a firm lease agreement-meaning that the afflecks management would start to lose money as stallholders bailed out.Bruntwoods did not give the terms of a new lease when they should have done otherwise this situation would not have arisen.Is it too complex to understand who is in in the position of power here,whose actions are having the largest impact and who stands to gain from the fall of afflecks?If somebody can actually give any reason,other than a vague ethereal feeling in their water,that would show anyone but Bruntwoods to be the beneficiaries of the loss of over 100 small business premises, please explain!As it is the afflecks management-bashers would appear to be nothing but rather lacklustre apologists for Bruntwoods.

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2008.


tantrumJanuary 7th 2008.

Yes that makes sense turn Afflecks into a "farmers market"??! What planet are you on?Afflecks shops are continually changing and evolving to meet customer demands, latest fashions etc, a business which doesn't change is doomed to failure, and there are businesses in there which have been profitable for more than 20 years. Yes the building could do with some renovating but that's the landlords problem and the management have done their best for the upkeep of the building whilst trying to keep rents realistic.

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2008.

We've been through this before. Afflecks are worried that because their lease has run out and they've not heard anything, but they won't actually talk to Bruntwood about it. Instead they send out letters to the shop owners saying 'your rent will at least double', scaring them into thinking the world is collapsing around them.As the article says, the future is down to the discretion of Afflecks Palace. Bruntwood have bigger fish to fry and more sense than to ruin their hard-earned reputation in the city by closing Afflecks.Its a non-story; just the Afflecks Management Company going about things in an ill-advised and amateurish manner.

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2008.

In answer to your question Paul, Tom Bloxham, Urban Splash. They run the N4 arcade at the back of Afflecks and that wouldn't survive without it.

JinkiesJanuary 7th 2008.

@ Cllr Pat Karneys Underpants, look around Manchester is already full of Greggs, M & S, Dorothy Perkins, Burtons, WHSMIITH etc. We became another identikit city years ago - don't you think it's a little late to try and go back to our town roots?

Cllr Pat Karneys UnderpantsJanuary 7th 2008.

yeah but where will Cllr Karney go for his fetishwear then?More seriously (!) Afflecks - it should stay as i want to keep all the spotty students up that smelly end of town! Plus we have to keep independent retailers for our own sakes, do we really want a Manchester full of Greggs, M & S, Dorothy Perkins, Burtons, WHSMIITH yawn yawn yawn...yeah great for leases and revenue as they are bigger, but we still need to personalise the city somewhat dont we or we become just another boring overcrowded city!!

Paul JohnsonJanuary 7th 2008.

It 2008 and we are about to head into a property recession. Why would Bruntwood want to terminate the lease with Afflecks? Who would rent the building from a commercial perspective with a retail recession on the horizon? Who would redevelop the building with a surplus of flats in manchester and flat prices on a downward spiral?

EndOfErasEverywhereJanuary 7th 2008.

All major towns and cities are becoming generic... just back from London and the old 'out there' places I remember from years ago are full of mainstream retailers... it is so disheartening. In Manchester I miss the Colosseum, Royal Exchange, Corn Exchange and all the small quirky shops we've lost everywhere that give individuals a reason to visit an area they don't live... Soon Bolton will have a glut of 'major' retailers after booting everyone out of the very popular Market Hall thus losing it's individuality too!!! Can anyone stop the cloning of this country?!!!

TomcatJanuary 7th 2008.

I hope this mess gets sorted out soon. Afflecks is a part of Manchester that needs to be preserved, its the last real place the small independent retailer can go. In the ten years or so Manchester has gone thro so much, its become unrecognizable since the bomb. But at what cost? Colosseum, Royal Exchange, Corn Exchange all gone. To Stephen who says the businesses could set up else where, I ask Where? There isn't anywhere else now.Manchester is a great city because of it caters for everyone from all walks of life big business to small indy retailers. Another jewel in the Manchester Crown to be lost? I hope not.

anne o keefeJanuary 7th 2008.

All the independant retailers have been pushed out of manchester to make way for bigger names who pay more rent I was in the Royal Exchange for 19 years and the bomb was just an excuse to get us all out the royal exchange shopping centre has lay empty now for another 4 years also the ginnel was shut down as well as the corn exchange were are the independants in the city centre??No where thats were!!

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2008.

Karney You Know it, I know, Manchester knows it. You can't keep saying your keeping an eye on it or aranging meetings between both sides when you have had no involvment at any point.

VickyJanuary 7th 2008.

If Afflecks closed there would be no point in outsiders like me visiting Manchester. Harsh, but true.

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2008.

I know a lot of people that come from all over Britain just to visit Afflecks and who won't come to Manchester if this closes

robJanuary 7th 2008.

Pat Karney seems to be blissfully unaware that Bruntwoods never spoke on behalf of Afflecks palace.Elaine Walsh is the management,motivator and creator of Afflecks palace and he pretty evidently hasn't bothered to speak to her.If her position has been made unteneble then Afflecks Palace ends-finito.NO councillor,developer or urban planner created or helped to sustain Afflecks,it has all been down to one person whom Bruntwoods and their apologists seem to want to blame for the situation.

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