COUNCIL chiefs say they are “encouraged” about a town centre despite one of its biggest shops going into administration.

Customers were shocked when department store chain Beales went into administration last week, threatening its Worthing branch with closure.

But Worthing Borough Council regeneration chief Kevin Jenkins said he was “encouraged about what the future holds” for the town.

“Unlike many places across the UK which are suffering from economic uncertainty and decline in retail, Worthing’s town centre is holding its own,” he claimed.

“We have relatively few empty shops, with vacancy rates standing at about six per cent compared to ten per cent across the UK, as well as an excellent mix of independent and multinational traders.”

Cllr Jenkins said the opening of new independent shops such as Bert’s Homestore would “change” the look and feel of the centre.

“Ambitious plans to roll out free citizen wifi with gigabit broadband speeds has the potential for transforming how visitors and companies see our town centre,” he said. “We are also committed to making a visit to Worthing more of an experience. Things will not be easy, and there will be challenges ahead. But by working together I know we can ensure the town centre has a future for years to come.”