Published: 12:16, 25 November 2021
| Updated: 17:16, 25 November 2021
Several businesses and a Santa's Grotto at a popular shopping centre have been forced to shut temporarily due to emergency repairs.
Stallholders at Hempstead Valley in Gillingham were told they will have to close for up to a week.
It is understood a fault in the building's sprinkler systems was identified and fire safety officers are working with centre management to rectify the problem.
Mall traders based on the main concourses are affected as well as the Santa's Grotto which opened earlier this month.
The centre's main shops remain open as normal, it is understood.
In a message to customers, beauty salon SLK Nails and Beauty said anyone with appointments before December 1 would need to rearrange.
It added: "Due to emergency maintenance work in the centre, all mall traders at Hempstead Valley have been asked to close for approximately one week.
"Unfortunately we are contacting you to cancel and rearrange your appointment.
"Please let us know preferred dates from Wednesday, December 1. So sorry for the inconvenience this has caused."
Fellow traders The Phone Stand which operates in the centre updated customers this morning.
The company said: "To all our valued customers, we thought we should give you an update as to what’s happening at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre.
"Unfortunately we and all the other retailers who trade in the malls have needed to close, temporarily, due to essential maintenance being carried out in the centre.
"We have been told that this will take a week to complete. As you can imagine we are very upset at this happening now especially after all that has happened in the last 18 months.
"For us personally we are still trying to provide a service for repairs and accessories as best we can, so if you need a phone/tablet repaired or any accessories please call us and we will do our best, as always, to serve your needs."
A Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) spokesperson said: “Due to repairs being undertaken on a sprinkler system at the premises, KFRS is working together with the building’s management to ensure the premises remains safe for visitors and staff.”
Further details about the nature of the fault to the sprinkler system have not been revealed.
Hempstead Valley has been contacted for comment.