Rent-to-own retailer taking over Peacock’s in West Ealing shopping centre

There’s been work going on in the old Peacock’s shop in the West Ealing shopping centre for a while but until yesterday I hadn’t been able to find out what is going in there. Now, thanks to a WEN colleague, I’ve found out it’s Brighthouse. To quote their website ‘BrightHouse is the nation’s leading rent-to-own retailer. Providing top brand household goods on low weekly, fortnightly or monthly payments and quick & simple credit.’

It’s yet another interesting reflection on the state of the local economy and how some large national retailers view West Ealing.  Brighthouse clearly sees a local market for rent-to-own rather than outright purchase when money is so tight. It’s good that the shop has been taken as it has left an ugly gap in the high street. What worries me is that the shopping centre is becoming unbalanced with an ever-increasing predominance of budget shopping, money lending shops and betting shops. All are fine but we need to find a way to make our hight street more varied to attract in as wide a range of residents as possible. Any form of ‘monoculture’ is risky and a budget shopping only high street is not good for the long-term health of West Ealing’s shopping centre.

As I’ve said before, WEN would like to work with the Council and landlords to find a way to use empty shops as business incubators or start-ups for small local businesses who want to try to make a go of it but cannot afford the high rents charged by landlords. This would bring back a better balance and a greater variety of shops.

4 Replies to “Rent-to-own retailer taking over Peacock’s in West Ealing shopping centre”

  1. I fear you are trying to change something which is just the nature of most of Londons’s villages; two communities living cheek by jowl, but in completely different worlds.

    On one side there are those with relatively high disposable incomes / well paid salaried jobs – in West Ealing they’re typically the Waitrose shoppers. On the other there are those on very low or no incomes (often immigrant familes) for whom every penny counts – lets say the Iceland / ethnic food store shoppers.

    Pouring taxpayers money into any High Street will only create change for as long as the money is available. As soon as the funds run out, the bubble bursts. If you really want to make West Ealing High Street more varied, you need to ensure more money is spent there (thus creating demand for more and better goods).

    If the Waitrose shoppers stopped shopping in Waitrose (or Sainsburys etc) or at least bought less items in Waitrose, and more from smaller shops, this will help create the demand and bring the more varied shopping experience to West Ealing which you say you want. Ironically it is already possbile to do a substantial family shop in West Ealing – small bakeries, grocers and fantastic ethnic food shops already match Waitrose for range and price (and in fact in many cases are much cheaper). And for extra range and quality there is the brilliant and regular farmers market.

    Now all that’s needed is somewhere for the Waitrose shoppers to park their 4×4’s…

    and reate short term bubbles, and is unlikely to create lasting growth , and shopped on the “High Street” instead then we’d see more shops selling truffle oil and organic

  2. A few days ago I got excited when I first saw what was going on inside the shop – signs on the walls for “electrical” and “kitchen” items. But when I walked past again, I saw the company name where I think the checkouts will be and my heart sank. I have seen adverts for the company on television and I fear this type of shop is more about selling the credit (small amounts of money paid at regular intervals which amount to much more than the price of the item) than selling material goods. A bit like the warranties and insurance on offer when you buy goods in some other shops. Or the designer glasses you are offered once you’ve had your eye test.

    I feel sad that it is the poorest people who may end up paying much more for their goods than if they had put the money aside over a period of time (do we have a local credit union?). When I was a child, in a low-income family which spent a few years in public housing, we just did without rather than use credit. Pawnbrokers and betting shops also make money from people with little money, and they would argue that they are providing a service (access to money and entertainment). It seems a very delicate balance between ripping off the poor and providing a service. Today I saw a sign on the window saying that Brighthouse will allow you to pay a lower price if you find one at one of its competitors – that at least is promising, so long as customers are able to check prices elsewhere (ie they can get around to competitors’ shops, have access to the internet etc).

  3. As I strolled back from the (fantastic) farmers market last Saturday (21st July) I noticed this shop was now open. Its bright frontage and propmotional dancers made it enticing and popular – better than an empty shop unit.

    I did however notice two other things on Saturday that, to my mind, encapsulate the problems David will face in his campaign to “bring back a better balance and a greater variety of shops” to West Ealing.

    Firstly was the over zealous Ealing Council parking attendants, patroling the streets behind the broadway issuing tickets to anyone who dared to try and park near the shops. Whilst its right to stop people parking in residents only bays, there are lots of single yellow lined streets around here. Allowing parking on these (and waiving car parking charges for the first 2 hours in council car parks) at the weekend, has to be a way of encouraging shoppers. Put another way, if the council wanted to kick a shopping street when its down, stopping people parking near the shops on a Saturday has to be a way to do it.

    Secondly, was seeing the trolleys of fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers being wheeled out of Waitrose by the shoppers West Ealing high street needs. The irony of having just visited the farmers market (where one can buy lots of lovely… fresh fruit and vegetables) was not lost on me. Whilst Waitrose won’t go bust if few hundred people stop buying their fruit and veg there, local shop keepers / market stall holder might go bust if the shoppers don’t.

    So rather than ask Ealing Council to spend taxpayers money on schemes to fill empty shops why not just ask them to encourage parking in the area at the weekend.

    And why not start a simple “shop local” campaign to create demand in the high street. Once you create the demand, a greater variety of shops will follow.

    1. I could not agree with you more. Parking is the key. All the supermarkets have ample free parking, shoppers of independents shops don’t have that choice and have to either pay to park or risk a ticket. I remember when the waitrose was built , they actually changed the roads to suit its needs, the same was done for tescos in perivale. Now that’s clout!

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