TRAFFORD Council says it is “deeply disappointed” about the decision to close Rackhams but remains confident about the future of Altrincham's high street.

House of Fraser confirmed yesterday that the Stamford Quarter department store will be one of 31 branches to close as part of the company's rescue deal to stave off insolvency.

The decision is a bitter blow for Altrincham's retail sector, which has enjoyed an impressive regeneration over the past few years.

Trafford Council quickly moved to calm fears over Altrincham's future, reassuring shoppers and businesses that the town will "continue to be resilient and go from strength to strength", despite the challenges currently affecting many of the UK’s high streets.

The Council said it will work with the town’s Business Improvement District (BID) Altrincham Unlimited and the owners of the Stamford Quarter building, Lunar Altrincham Sarl, to secure new tenants.

Reassurances were also made to the dozens of staff who risk losing their jobs as a result of the closure.

Cllr James Wright, Exec Member for Investment, Regeneration and Strategic Planning, said: “This is really sad news and we are deeply disappointed for the people who will lose their jobs.

"Rackhams has been a long established feature of the high street for many years, however, its closure does not make us any less confident about Altrincham’s future.

"It has continually bucked the national trend and thrived while other towns in the UK have struggled.

"The Council had a vision several years ago to create a vibrant town centre and it has been transformed by the Council working in partnership with the private sector.

"We are committed to improving and growing the town centre for the benefit of residents, businesses and visitors alike. Altrincham is a destination in its own right and we will work to develop that, so it continues to be one of the best places to live in the country.”

This year, The Sunday Times named Altrincham as the 'Best Place to Live in the North-West' due to the town's thriving café, retail and leisure culture and its award-winning market.

Ewen Miller, Chair of Altrincham Unlimited, said: “While the closure of Rackhams is very disappointing, and sadly puts a number of jobs at risk, it reflects national long-term retail trends.

"However, this will not knock Altrincham off course as it continues to improve trading activity, increase visitor numbers and build its reputation as a modern market town with a strong sense of community.

"We continue to attract many different businesses and look forward to welcoming many more in the future, including the London-based Everyman boutique cinema chain due to open in the Autumn.

"The revival of Altrincham will continue, and we foresee a positive future for the town centre as great place to visit, work and start a business.”