A trader in Derby has given a stark warning about Westfield’s desire to come to Croydon.

The Australian retail giant is one of the frontrunners to be the preferred partner to redevelop the Whitgift Centre in the town centre.

But John Alexander, an independent trader from Derby, has warned the multinational shopping centre firm’s arrival might not be a blessing.

Westfield bought the Eagle Shopping Centre in Derby four years ago and Mr Alexander has claimed it has drawn trade away from other areas in the city.

He said: “It as if a foreign spaceship has landed and eaten up our city centre.

“All the vibrant shops have gone from the rest of the city and all of us that are left have seen our income nosedive. Many of us have nearly gone out of business.

“We have no doubt that Westfield are good at out of town destination shopping centres, but they are a very poor and toxic neighbour in a city centre unless you are one of their chosen retailers.

“If you come to Derby (which we hope many of you will) you will see signs showing you how to park and walk to Westfield and even our ring road now guides you to park at Westfield. There is no evidence in the Westfield that there is a traditional and potentially vibrant City centre outside their doors. They have absolutely turned their back on the rest of the City.”

Westfield was the first to declare an interest in the North End mall, having announced last year it was in discussions with the Whitgift Foundation.

But it transpired leaseholders , Royal London Asset Management and Irish Bank Resolution Corp, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, had not been consulted.

They have drawn up a list of seven potential developers, including Westfield, to undertake redeveloping the site.

Among those believed to be on the list are Hammerson - which owns rival centre Centrale - and Delancey - who have taken over Minerva which owns St George’s Walk and the Allders site.