Harrogate store closures

Harrogate is not shutting up shop just yet!

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Simon Bowes-Charles

Owner/Editor at Busara Ltd
I am a published writer, journalist and photo-journalist. I have an MA in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales and my work has been represented in the past at the Bologna book fair. I have also had both poetry and journalism published in a number of UK national newspapers including 'the Observer'. My photo-journalism has represented by Agence France-Presse and my work documenting the living conditions at 'the Jungle' camp at Calais has been published in Hungary.

Address: 10 Lincoln Street, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
email: simonb@pushbackpolitics.org
Phone: +44 7305 983 577
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Posh? Rich? Harrogate is a popular destination for those who like to shop and one of the most successful towns in Yorkshire and the North east of England

But if you look closely, you will see a sudden increase in boarded up shops on its high street. Companies are no longer queuing up to pay the high-rents for a high street presence, not even in Harrogate. The ‘Chelsea’ of the North.

Just a couple of years ago businesses were fighting to get into these prime-retail units and now no-one wants or can afford them. They are just too big and the business rates are cripplingly expensive, even for the PLCs.

This town has survived the last 10 years better than most, but it has still been hit by an exodus or collapse of big-name and big-brand retailers such as Cath Kidston, Prezzo and Jamie Olivers embattled empire.

Most of these big companies have sheltered behind restructuring deals known as company voluntary arrangements or CVAs.

These mean that the companies survive, often as a shell, but it is often the landlord who takes the hit in their pockets and the smaller retailers who take the long-term hit of a reduction in footfall as customers stop coming into town and town centres become less of a Saturday afternoon destination.

Surprisingly, Harrogate is up there with Birmingham, Nottingham and Reading as one of the towns or cities most affected by the big chain CVA closures.

in comparison, the small local shops are surviving and some are thriving due to niche marketing, niche products and exemplary customer focussed service.

One example of this being Jessica Wyatt ,who, once Carluccio’s completed a CVA and pulled out of town, saw an opportunity to gain from their loss and cheekily did a deal with their old landlord and snapped up the lease.

Her cafe has only been open a couple of weeks but is already doing business that Carluccios’s could have only dreamed about.

Harrogate is starting to remember what it always knew; be distinct, be unique and be special.