Residents call for new town centre shopsBy Laura Herbert
August 30, 2012
A butchers, Primark or an Ann Summers are some of the shops The Wokingham Times readers want to see replace Dorothy Perkins and Burton.
The high street clothes store is due to close its doors in Market Place in October, but despite another big chain pulling out of Wokingham, business is not all bad as three new companies opened shops last week.
On Friday Sanpa, a Spanish farm shop launched, followed by Oslar coffee shop, in Market Place, and MishyBoo Boutique, in Peach Street, on Saturday.
The borough council is also looking at ways to boost business before the regeneration is completed.
Hopeful Times readers have taken to our getwokingham Facebook page to reveal what stores they would like to see in the town centre to take over Dorothy Perkins and Burton’s unit when it shuts up shop.
Suggestions include a butchers shop or fruit and vegetable store, while others would like to see a Card Factory, 99p Store or pound shop move into the unit in Market Place, while others called for a Primark or Ann Summers.
Staff at Dorothy Perkins and Burton in Wokingham say they were told the clothing chain has decided to end its lease after an agreement couldn’t be reached with the landlord.
But the borough council believes the move is in line with parent company Arcadia’s property strategy announced last November to close around 10 per cent of its stores due to a 38 per cent fall in annual profits.
Its closure follows Peacocks which shut in February after the chain was sold out of administration to Edinburgh Wool Mill.
Wokingham Town Council has since used the empty unit to launch an indoor market.
Andrew Nicholls, economic development manager at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “The town council are doing a great job and have managed to utilise the space left by Peacocks. The local authority have got a bit more control over the shops along Peach Street as they are now council owned, but it is very difficult at the moment to get some of the kind of retailers we would like to see coming into Wokingham as we have got the regeneration, which we need to do.”
He added: “Although Wokingham wasn’t successful in the Portas Pilot bid, we are keen to look at some of the ideas from the work that went into submitting the bid about how we can work with the town council and residents.
“There were comments about Wokingham becoming more of a family-friendly town. We would like to set up a team which the Government and Mary Portas are encouraging.”
The Portas Pilot Towns project launched following a report by retail expert and TV personality Mary Portas into the future of town centres.
Successful town centres received up to £100,000 to be used on projects to promote the towns.