AFTER a turbulent year – and having gone into administration in April – it comes as something of a surprise that Croydon Village Outlet has lasted a year.
But still it trades from the former Allders site, despite what could politely be termed a few "teething problems" along the way.
This, of course, began with a chaotic opening (and then closing) 12 months ago, and continued into various allegations about staff not being paid on time, and customers being denied much-vaunted designer gear.
By early summer this year, the store had been put into administration and arguably its biggest impact on Croydon since has been courtesy of its omnipresent soapbox hawker – promoting the store's wares to passing customers in North End.
The bottom line is that, whatever your views on Croydon Village Outlet, it would be a stretch to say it's been a success or a fitting replacement for the 150-year-old Allders.
The fact Croydon BID – a body whose modus operandi is to promote town centre businesses as positively as possible – has felt compelled to lodge a complaint about its on-street selling practices is as sure a sign as any that the outlet hasn't been fully embraced by the town.
The BID is quite right too. The North End hawking and megaphone-led sales spiel looks and sounds tacky and doesn't exactly enhance the image or appearance of the town.
Away from the outlet, the recent closure of stores like Burton and Dorothy Perkins reflects a general danger that in this pre-Westfield/Hammerson limbo-land, we're going to end up with a dead town centre.
HMV, opened last week, gives some hope but in general, our retail centre needs a fresh impetus. This, of course, is on its way, in a shiny, exciting £1 billion package – and it can't come soon enough.