Staff sadness as Drake Circus mall stores shut up shop
DRAKE Circus mall's large Zara fashion store and its next-door Bershka sister shop were today due to close with staff working a 12-hour shift to box up unsold clothing.
Mall bosses are still tight-lipped over the future of the units, but, as The Herald revealed last month, it is understood computer giant Apple is to move into the space vacated by Zara with another retailer taking the smaller Bershka unit.
Zara staff said there have been "rumours" another retailer will be taking the upper floor at the clothing store, currently a menswear department, but this is unconfirmed by mall bosses.
A Drake Circus spokesman could only say: "We have retailers that will take these spaces, but officially we can't say who they are yet."
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Meanwhile, the mall is seeing other stores coming and going.
Carphone Warehouse has shut its unit on the lower level, but is only moving a few yards to a larger shop – vacated recently by Barratts shoes which closed after its parent went into administration last year.
Mall bosses said the empty Carphone Warehouse unit would be filled, too, by a "new brand to Plymouth", but were unable to give details.
However, they pointed out that new stores are arriving in the mall, including Paperchase, which came in late in 2011, and recent arrivals Yo! Sushi and fashion chain Blue Inc.
It is little comfort for the 36 Zara and Bershka staff who will lose their jobs.
One staff member told The Herald just three of Zara's 26 workers had found new jobs.
But staff, who were today boxing unsold clothes and sending them to Zara stores in Cardiff and London's Bond Street, were feeling mixed emotions.
One worker said there was a feeling of sadness ahead of today's 6pm closure and said: "The worst bit will be once we have locked those doors."
Some staff will return to the store tomorrow working from 7am until early afternoon "transferring and boxing stuff". But they will see each other on Sunday when all redundant workers will meet for a barbecue.
"It will be the last time we're all together," a staff member said. "All the security guys from the mall are coming too."
The worker said the closure, announced just two weeks ago by senior management "does not feel real yet", because the store and its staff have been so busy.
That person has yet to find another job but said: "I've had a few interviews, I'd like to stay in retail."