August 2, 2021 10.35 am This story is over 31 months old

Cinema? Pool? Future of JTF building in the air after sudden closure

What could become of the building?

By Local Democracy Reporter

Lincoln will be without a JTF after the retailer went into administration and closed all of its 12 stores — but peculiar signage at the building suggesting it could become a film and entertainment complex has people questioning the next move.

JTF Mega Discount Warehouse closed temporarily on Greetwell Road in Lincoln in June ahead of a “grand relaunch”, which was eventually scrapped after the business went into administration and could not find a buyer.

The discount warehouse retailer was taken over by Arthur Harris in January 2020, who saved the company from administration, turning around the business’ prospects.

Signs in the door show that it has now closed. | Photo: The Lincolnite

However, despite being classed as an essential retailer and staying open through lockdowns, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a dramatic dip in sales of two of JTF’s biggest seasonal sales, Christmas and bonfire night, and has resulted in the business’ demise.

It is believed that 500 jobs will be lost nationally as a result of the closures, and there are already plans in place for a new business to move into the Lincoln site.

A notice which remains in the window outside the Lincoln store states that Campelino Coffee Company had applied for a Premises License to City of Lincoln Council.

A Premises License request is up in the window of the JTF site on Greetwell Road. | Photo: The Lincolnite

Campelino Coffee Company is also owned by Arthur Harris, and according to the notice proposed “regulated entertainment (to include films and recorded music) and the sale of alcohol off the premises.”

The notice is dated as 2020, and no applications for a change of use have been submitted to the City of Lincoln Council.

The Lincolnite has seen a letter that was sent to employees of JTF confirming that the company would be going into administration.

Within the letter it said that JTF ceased trading on July 16, but staff were not notified that they would be losing their jobs until July 22, six days later.

As well as this, Mr Harris told employees that a £5 million repayable loan from the government would have saved JTF from administration, and encouraged the staff he recently let go to write to their MP and complain.

The letter reads: “I know you will all have bigger worries now, but if you do have a minute and want to express our shared disappointment in the lack of support for JTF, may I kindly ask that you send a quick note to your MP.

“A repayable loan of £5m would have saved JTF – in comparison, the cost of 500 people claiming benefits would cost the Government in the region of £9m per year.”

One disgruntled employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, alleged that the company took pension contributions from staff wages and didn’t pay it into people’s pensions pot for the last three months, equating to around £550 for this particular staff member.