Warminster's High Street continues to feel the pinch of recession

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By wp_alistair | Friday, July 27, 2012, 18:02

The fortunes of Warminster's main shopping areas really are a mixed bag. 

For every success story of a new business or entrepreneur prepared to take a risk, there are more businesses closing or going into administration. 

It must be an incredibly tough time being the owner of a High Street business in Warminster - or any market town - where the recession 

continues to bite. Having to balance cashflow and stock and continue to try and entice new customers in off the street must be a very tricky 


Good news - if you like Coffee - is that several new tea/coffee/cake establishments are opening up in Warminster, one on Market Place in the old Currys (and before that, Dixons) unit, and other in the Three Horseshoes Mall. Whether we need any more cafés is a matter of heated debate. One side say we have far too many already and the planners are crazy to allow new ones to open, and on the other side there are those who say that it is better not to have empty shops. 

I had a friend come and stay with me recently - from South London - and even he was staggered at the number of empty units. He said that where he lived there were hardly any empty shops - or that if one became empty it was filled almost immediately. That might work in "that there London town" but out here in rural Wiltshire, as we know, we have shops units which have been empty for years - through a combination of greedy landlords charging over the odds for leases,  through to a potential lack of finance and support for fledgling businesses fram banks. 

Milkshakemania has lasted longer than I thought it would, I'll admit...and the Polish food/drink shop on Silver Street also seems to be ploughing along (even though I am sure it can't be right that there are no English signs in the windows...) so clearly there are niches which continue to well. Talking to the florists in town - which are a discretionary purchase after all, we don't HAVE to buy flowers - business is booming. Fast food (see Dominos Pizza) and charity shops (lots of business from scrimpers) are also doing very well. 

However this month we also learnt that the Julian Graves health food chain fell into administration, putting the future of some 755 employees at risk. Administrators continue to run the business as a going concern and are looking for buyers, but the shop in the Three Horseshoes Mall will be closing down, with knock-down prices and even the fittings are for sale. Very sad, but then I must confess I never went in there once....

Holland and Barrett, also in Warminster, are owned by the same parent company but do not appear to be at risk - probably because they have that nice Welsh chap on the telly doing adverts. 

The Wessex Break Club in the Three Horseshoes Mall is also closing, the premises having been repossessed by owners of the Mall, Stockland Limited. It had been refurbished and opened in June last year but it simply has not been able to survive.

Johnsons the Cleaners have announced that there will be 100 shop closures by the end of the year as part of a company restructure, and Warminster may well be on the list - time will tell.



  • Profile image for pebblesmedia

    One of the shopkeepers in Warminster told me that there used to be a collective of Warminster Traders but they would just meet every now and again, moan about the council and lack of support, and do nothing about it. It didn't last very long. This kind of group needs some dynamic, creative and committed to drive the needs of Warminster Traders forward. I understand the Town Council now have a working group on Warminster Business so we shall see if anything positive arises from that.

    As an aside a huge number of Warminster High Street businesses have little or no internet/web presence, relying solely on footfall...this is an archaic approach and if independent traders want to survive they have to embrace web and social media to increase their "funnel" of prospective clients.

    By pebblesmedia at 10:27 on 30/07/12

  • Profile image for arl24

    Does Warminster have a lobbying group/forum for small businesses? If not, why not?

    By arl24 at 22:51 on 28/07/12

  • Profile image for Prince Leopold Inn

    I wonder if there is an argument for small, local retailers to work together on a more co-operative basis, sharing costs, sharing marketing ideas and buying power, greater lobbying voice with the local and regional councils, maybe sharing other overheads.....would love to come up with a solution which would accommodate and help those struggling retailers.

    By Prince Leopold Inn at 22:27 on 28/07/12

  • Profile image for derryhawk

    All the small towns in these islands seem to be in the same boat. It must be a very hard time for all small, local retailers, at a situation where many of the chains are struggling.

    By derryhawk at 21:05 on 27/07/12

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