Independents leading the way

It was with interest I read an article in my trade magazine that the balance between independent and multiple retailers is now at a high of 68 per cent to 32 per cent across the top 650 town centres and that a report in July that in the first half of 2012 the number of independents trading in the top 500 towns rose by over 800, despite closures, more than making up for the closing of town centre outlets by multiple retailers.

The evidence seems that independents are the best hope of recovery for our towns. An Entrepreneurial British report from Sage showed that more than half of 18 to 24-year-olds who are planning to start a business are planning to do so in a real shop on a real street. Even more reason for local and national government to help the independents.

Mistakes over the past years by town planners in building town centres which contain the same multiples in town after town and very high rents, making it almost impossible for small retailers to open in them, are now showing through with large empty spaces and no hope of filling them at the rents that they are asking.

Could not Swan Walk shopping centre turn the dead end into small areas where small start- up independents could take on a short lease. That area has been dead for almost the 12 years that my curtain and carpet show has been in Horsham.

Town centres need the life put back into them and independents are leading the way, it just needs some thought and some sense put into the rents and rates that are being asked, especially by town centre managements.

IAN WOOD

Materialistic Curtains and Carpets, Glynde Place, Horsham