Concern as Little Joule moves into Southwold High Street

PUBLISHED: 11:58 17 August 2014 | UPDATED: 11:58 17 August 2014

Two premises in Southwold are set to become chain stores

Two premises in Southwold are set to become chain stores

© Archant 2014

Fresh concerns were voiced this week for the future of Southwold’s independent traders after it emerged that two new chains are set to open stores in the town.

The children’s clothing shop Little Joule is moving into the former launderette in High Street while the fashion retailer Seasalt is taking over what used to be the Blue Lighthouse restaurant in East Street.

They are the latest national companies to announce plans to open stores in Southwold – fuelling fears about increasing rents and the effect on hard-pressed locally-owned businesses.

It comes after Waterstones opened a store in the former tourist information office under the name the Southwold Bookshop last month and follows the closure of the long-established independent retailer Eco-Electrical after the rent more than doubled on its Market Place premises.

Town councillor Will Windell said the latest developments were not welcome.

He said: “It is a disappointment for two reasons. It means fewer local independent shops and as more chains come in the more the rents go up. Financially for a small town it has a big impact.”

John Perkins, of the Southwold and Reydon Society, added: “The danger is Southwold is going to lose its character, which is the whole reason people come here.”

But the company that owns the buildings now let to Little Joule and Seasalt, Gentian Development Group, said it wanted to invest further in Southwold and was on the look-out for new properties to develop for national retailers, with at least three chains looking for a presence in the town.

The properties Gentian has bought and redeveloped in Southwold also include the one let to WH Smith, which Gentian no longer owns – and the one taken over amid much controversy by Costa Coffee.

However, Nick Ekins, managing director of Gentian, disputed claims it was behind the problems in Southwold.

He said: “I think it is the market. It is also a question of the quality of retailing. If there is a choice between a national chain and an excellent independent retailer I know what I would do.”

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  • You court the London weekend set (as we have in North Norfolk) and then moan when they bring their familiar shops and brands to keep them company.

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    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • I cannot see nothing wrong with these shops coming into the town, there is room for everyone, it is better than empty shops, the trouble with Southwold is they think they are too posh for the likes of these retail stores, well, that's o.k., I got the message a long time ago when they mentioned that disability scooters were not welcome in the town, we no longer go there and sooner or later others will get the message to and it will become an empty ghost town.

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    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

  • Oh come on, of course Gentian are behind it. Before they came on the scene there was no problem. Frankly they are asset stripping the town and presumably will then move on elsewhere. Also it wouldn't be so terrible if there was a bit of balance but how many specialist clothes shops does one town need? Also just look at W H Smith's window, it is gross and could be in Lands End or Waterloo. There is no attempt to identify with the town. Well done Waterstones for trying to retain some character. I would urge all visitors to only shop in the Independent stores which are still magnificent.

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    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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