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Revamped street loses five independent stores
A HEREFORD high street staple for 25 years is to become the latest in a line of independent stores to leave Widemarsh Street.
Cookmate is following White Minx, Cherry Savidge, Coco’s and Dragons Cure out of one corner of the city centre .
The store’s departure, expected later this month, will leave a growing number of empty windows as new tenants appear reluctant to take up leases on the street which saw extensive development just three years ago.
Cookmate owners Andrew and Claire McElhayer, who are retiring, say their search for a buyer was unsuccessful.
“We tried to sell the business for 12 months,” said Mr McElhayer.
“There was not a lot of interest. We used an agent and tried with contacts we had ourselves.
“The worst thing for us is losing our staff. They’re all very understanding, but all very sad.”
Widemarsh Streets’s pedestrianistation, costing more than £1 million, was heralded as a “golden opportunity” to “attract more shoppers into the city centre and boost its economy“ by Herefordshire Council.
And while its design garnered recognition from the UK Street Design Awards 2011, the lasting impact on the city centre’s economy would appear to have been less significant.
“I think the council spent so much money developing the street because it’s seen as the link between the new development and the city centre,” said Mr McElhayer.
“In the long term Widemarsh Street will benefit – I would hope it does – it’s got a nice feel, a nice balance of shops.”
However the retail model is also changing – and with the rise of online giants like Amazon, the High Street is a different place to when Mr McElhayer first raised the shutters 25 years ago.
While not moving far, Cherry Savidge, Dragons Cure and White Minx all moved to other city premises.
Cherry Savidge and Dragons Cure both took units off East Street, bridal store White Minx relocated to the northern part of Widemarsh Street, while Coco’s moved to Maylord Street.
Meanwhile, Finishing Touch Accessories, in neighbouring Bewell Street, has also started a closing down sale with staff being told they will have to finish at the end of the month.