Chichester BID responds to city centre shop movements - 'Businesses now need to be flexible'
"Businesses now need to be flexible and continually challenge their operating models to stay relevant and profitable."
That was the response of Helen Marshall, vice chairman and CEO of Chichester' s Business Improvement District (BID), after the news that New Look is planning to move to a new city centre site.
Clothing giant New Look announced last week that it would be closing its East Street store on Sunday (October 3).
However, a planning application has been submitted by a New Look store designer, requesting permission to install signage at The Corn Exchange in East Street. The current occupiers of the Grade II listed building, Next, has announced it will close next month. Read more here“The move New Look have planned makes a lot of commercial sense for them and is great for the city, as we are able to retain a popular brand within our retail line up," Ms Marshall said.
"It’s good to see that New Look still see Chichester as a positive investment proposition and wish to retain their presence on our high street."
'Passionate people will ensure the city survives this very challenging period'
The news that fashion giant Next is closing comes three years after the chain said it was ‘unlikely’ to renew its lease and would look at any offers from other retailers to take it over before 2020.
"I'm sad to hear this....Chichester is slowly losing all main retailers," wrote Observer reader Brenda Whitlock on Facebook.
Carrie Nourse added: "It is so sad the way the town centre has rapidly declined over the years. Back in the day it was a very busy town centre with a good choice of shops..."
Charlie Harte asked why the business is closing, adding: "There will be nothing left."
Tanya Chainey shared her views that online shopping has 'a lot to answer for'.
"Our high streets started to decline before Brexit and this is happening in other European countries also," she wrote.
Claire Panton wasn't surprised by the news.
She wrote: "I've said this would be gone pretty soon. I'm sure they will open a store on the outskirts in the retail areas bigger units and lower rates. Free parking also."
Matt Horstead said high streets will survive but they 'have to change and move with the times'.
He added: "Chichester and it’s surrounding areas have far more going for it than some people care to realise, but there are a huge amount of positive, passionate people that will ensure the city survives this very challenging period."
Despite it becoming apparent that New Look could be moving to The Corn Exchange, readers have begun to offer suggestions for new businesses.
Graeme Banks wants to see a disco pub or club brought into the city centre.
Sarah-louise Bates suggested that a nightclub or Primark would be appropriate.