Last retailers to leave 'ghost town' centre

Last retailers to leave 'ghost town' centre
Uncertain future: Once a thriving retail centre, most of the shops at Caringbah Marketplace are now empty. Pictures: Lisa McMahon

Uncertain future: Once a thriving retail centre, most of the shops at Caringbah Marketplace are now empty. Pictures: Lisa McMahon

THE closure of a Franklins supermarket may be the last nail in the coffin for what was once a thriving Caringbah shopping centre.

Caringbah Marketplace has become a retail "ghost town", with the owners of the five remaining businesses told to leave by July 31.

However, the owner of the centre, which is situated on the Kingsway, said this week it would not necessarily close.

Steve Lacey, asset manager for A & A Lederer, said discussions were continuing with Metcash, which closed many stores after buying the Franklins chain, as well as other potential occupants.

Mr Lacey said the centre had previously been up for sale, but was not on the market at present.

"We are looking at the potential of developing the site in the future," he said.

Mr Lacey said patronage had declined with the growth of the retail market "at the other end of Caringbah", where there were large Woolworths and Coles supermarkets.

Caringbah Marketplace, with 23 speciality shops and a supermarket, was a major attraction when it opened about 30 years ago, but the number of empty shops had gradually increased over the past decade.

The closure of Franklins at the end of May shocked the remaining business owners because, while they were on a month-to-month lease, there was still more than three years remaining on the supermarket lease.

However, they said they did not blame the centre owner for giving them notice.

Stephanie Zhu and her husband have operated Kingsway Newsagency for nine years.

She said they would "lose everything" because they were restricted to a small geographic area and there were no other shops available.

Jenny and Robert Diep, who started Kingsway Bakery almost 21 years ago, also said they had nowhere to move.

"We don't make millions, but we make a living day to day," said Mrs Diep, who came to Australia as a refugee from Cambodia in 1988.

Darcy Sampson, a long-time bakery customer, said it would be a huge loss.

"What makes it good is the quality of the food and the friendliness of the staff," he said.

Will the closure of Franklins be the end of the shopping centre?