Vote of confidence in Hitchin

Retailers, restauranteurs and other businesses are making massive investments in the town with over £10 million committed so far this year.  New openings, refurbishments and relocations to bigger premises are a great vote of confidence in the trading future of Hitchin which has been bucking the trend of national, gloom and doom.

Waitrose are about to start a £3 million refurbishment of their town centre store; Next are currently adding over 1,000 square feet at first floor level and refitting throughout; Monsoon have relocated across the road in to larger premises and recent openings here from Claire’s, The White Stuff and Costa Coffee have enhanced the footfall in this part of town; both Strada and more recently Zizzis in Sun Street have had complete makeovers;  Wilkinsons have rebranded with new fascia and new store layout; Asda have invested in huge improvements with their takeover of the old Netto store and the imminent opening of Peacocks and Poundland after the multi million pound refurbishment of the old Woolworths store will bring the High Street back to full occupancy.

And it’s not just the national multiples either – the air of dynamism has encouraged independents to open or enhance their business.  Three generations of family at Kenmore Interiors have relocated, more than doubling their size, to the beautiful 3-storied building at the corner of Hermitage Road and Bancroft;   Colanders Cookware in Churchgate is expanding in to a third unit making it even more of a destination store; Hermitage Road has seen the addition of a very large new bar and restaurant in the former Remix Nightclub which will be opening in September; Tannz Tanning and Beauty Studio; Voila Creations for hair, beauty and photographic services and around the corner in Queen Street, Soothing Soles Fish Spa the very latest in health and beauty therapy;  Cane & Able Mobility Shop has moved in to much larger premises in Bancroft; Little Roots in Bridge Street opened as an innovative and specialist children’s hairdresser; the Car Agents Auto Lounge brings an exciting new concept to buying and selling premium and sports cars to their new premises in Brand Street . . . the positive stories go on.

Yes there are still concerns but Hitchin is steadfastly maintaining a vacancy rate of around 6% against a national average of almost 15% and some nightmare scenarios of up to 40%.

The Chairman of Hitchin Initiative, Brent Smith said “this is a tremendous vote of confidence in our town and reflects the hard work of our town centre partnership over the last 16 years.  More recently our efforts with Hitchin Market, now in community ownership, led to a renaissance against the national trend and we now open four days each week such is the demand.”

Town Centre Manager, Keith Hoskins said “We recognised long ago that a successful town offers so much more than sterile shopping malls – character, history, street activity, events and festivals; a pleasant and welcoming environment that encourages visitors and creates better trading conditions.  Our hugely successful Hitchin Festival throughout July including the internationally recognised Rhythms of the World 2 Day Concert brought thousands of people into the town.  Our acclaimed Business Improvement District Scheme ensures that we are able to address business priorities in marketing and in looking after our town.  We are not complacent and recognise the fragile state of the economy but businesses working together with the Local Authorities and our committed community organisations serves our town well.”

Hitchin MP, Peter Lilley added “This dynamism is a tribute to local business people, the Hitchin Initiative and the positive attitude of Hitchin people.  I hope it will show other towns across the country that whatever the problems of the world economy, success is possible for those willing to invest in their vision of the future.”


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