A TRIO of high quality shops businesses could reinvigorate Worcester’s struggling High Street and drag the city out of the doldrums, say traders.
Fashionable country clothing company Joules is to open at the former Jessops shop on the corner of Copenhagen Street and the High Street within weeks say Worcester BID.
Next door, Casablanca wine bar is expected to open to the public this Saturday following a VIP launch on Friday. Subtone, a photography business in the same street, opened three weeks ago.
All three units had been empty and it is hoped the boost will provide hope to the High Street after one struggling trader, Richard Carter of Trinity Pet and Gardens, complained the city was becoming “a ghost town”.
Kitchenware company Lakeland in St Swithin’s Street will depart the city, moving to Webbs Garden Centre in Wychbold, near Droitwich in the new year. But the opening of the new shops provides a ray of hope against a backdrop of doom and gloom.
Joules offers a range of high class, colourful outdoor clothing, including tweed coats, resin jackets, waistcoats and dresses.
Casablanca will be a wine bar with a classic movies theme, established by businesses partners, self-confsessed film buff Mark Sharpe and Karim Boutaib of Karimark entertainment.
The wine bar, named after the movie of the same name, will have 17 wines from across the world with a television displaying classic films with a theme described by Mr Sharpe as “Film Noir meets the Rat Pack”. Mr Boutaib is already an established businessman in the city, managing Asilah Lounge, a Moroccan restaurant and Tapas bar just around the corner on the High Street.
David Lloyd-Rumens, studio director and photographer of Subtone, Copenhagen Street said: “We have had bookings and quite a few in. We have been relatively busy. I have a loyal customer base anyway and most of my business work is by recommendation. I don’t have to rely too much on footfall. Word of mouth recommendations retain repeat customers.”
Adrian Field, Business Improvement District (BID) manager in Worcester, said: “Three empty units looking down at heel are being replaced with three high quality businesses. That part of town is looking a lot more upmarket. It’s still tough out there.”
Concern was expressed by readers about the future of Worcester High Street online. Mrwrighty said: “Out of town developments are killing off the city centres. You can park for free for starters. The new development in Sherriff Street is not going to help either. Our council needs a cohesive plan to help shops in the centre.”
David350uk said: “Unless they provide free parking we can soon kiss goodbye to high street shops.”
Brooksider said: “Why should we taxpayers subsidise failing businesses who won’t help themselves?”