Start-up businesses and independent retailers could be part of the answer to the revival of the high street according to a retail expert at Sanderson Weatherall. Enquiries from independent retailers have increased considerably with many of these ambitious businesses looking to set up in city and town centre locations such as Harrogate, Wetherby and Ripon.
Peter Heron, Head of Retail for Sanderson Weatherall in Leeds said “We are starting to get far more enquiries from start-up retailers and they are cropping up in lots of places. It’s early days for a lot of these people, but this is a way of reviving the high street. Retail is a hard business but it’s encouraging that people are being allowed to have a go – the more this happens, the better.”
Heron argues that the recession coupled with the collapse of many national chains has led to gap in the market and that the high street is seeing almost a complete cycle back to the early days of market style retail, with the growing popularity of pop-up shops, or temporary lettings, in prime retail locations.
“Previously rents would have been price prohibitive for many independents but as empty units have risen, landlords have had to reduce rents and relax terms. This has given these groups an opportunity to test the waters in certain prime locations.”
‘Sophie Likes’ is an example of one such independent. A Harrogate based business; Sophie Likes is an innovative and quirky brand which brings the magic and charm of famed London markets to Northern England.
Sophie Binns, the founder, started the business in 2010 and until recently achieved her success through a combination of online sales and as a stallholder at regional markets, country and gift fairs whilst also holding down a part time job. In February she will open her first shop in Harrogate on Beulah Street.
Speaking about her new venture Sophie said “I’m incredibly excited to be opening a shop, I’ve been working very long hours over the last few years building the brand and learning about what works and what doesn’t.
“I always dreamed I would have my own shop on the high street but the costs always seemed prohibitive, now, following the recession there certainly seem to be more opportunities.”
Heron summarised, “I am hopeful that we will see new businesses going from strength to strength and the more of these independents coming forward, the better – the high street is certainly not dead.”