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‘Disappointing’ restaurant closure not a reason to panic says Ilford business leader

PUBLISHED: 08:00 07 October 2016 | UPDATED: 08:01 07 October 2016

Ben Collins

Ben Collins

Archant

The closure of a popular restaurant chain’s branch in Ilford town centre is not a cause for concern, says one of the borough’s business leaders.

Sadly, for anyone hoping to enjoy an Italian meal in Ilford town centre, the Frankie and Benny’s restaurant. which has been open on Clement’s Road, Ilford since 2002, closed its doors for the final time last month.

However, the manager of the Ilford Business Improvement District (BID), Ben Collins, has told the Recorder there is no need for Ilford’s many shoppers to panic that a spate of closures is on the horizon.

He said: “It’s obviously a massive disappointment whenever a business closes, but in no way is it indicative of what’s going on with the rest of Ilford right now.

“In terms of retail we’ve got H&M and Pandora now open in the Exchange, a Creams is coming to the High Street, and the new Harrison Gibson development is going ahead, so it’s a very exciting time to be a customer in the town centre.

“There are always going to be bumps like this one, but there’s a real feel-good atmosphere around businesses in Ilford town centre at the moment.”

Mr Collins, who visited the restaurant frequently, was sad to learn of its closure, but stressed that the decision to close the branch had been made at a much higher, national level.

“The company which runs Frankie and Benny’s took a ‘root-and-branch’ approach,” he said.

“They closed more than 30 sites across the country to try and save money, but we’ve still got Nandos and a whole host of other restaurants that are going from strength to strength.

“So while it is disappointing to see the restaurant close it in no way reflects badly on Ilford itself.”

In fact, Mr Collins was certain that the future was remarkably bright for businesses in and around the town centre, and had nothing but praise for the effort Redbridge Council has made to ensure the area remained attractive to investors.

He said: “The Ilford BID is here to work with the local authority, who have some very exciting plans, to help mould the vision and the aspirations of the town centre.

“We’re already drawing up our plans for some Christmas events with the Exchange, and we’ll continue to provide new opportunities for people to get involved with the high street.

“Ilford’s time is now.”


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