Boomtown Cheltenham as more and more shops come to centre
A "renaissance" in retail is being enjoyed in Cheltenham town centre with a glut of new shops opening and more on the way.
MODA Collections, an independent women’s fashion store, opened at Regent Arcade this week, and two national chains are due to launch in the same shopping centre in the next few weeks.
Quiz, another women’s fashion retailer, is taking over the empty unit next to Menkind, while Card Factory will slot in between the Fragrance Shop and Regis hair salon.
And John Forward, Regent Arcade’s manager, said another three other retailers are in talks to open new stores in the shopping centre.
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He said: “Quiz and Card Factory are in the process of being shop fitted and I expect them to open in the next few weeks.
“We are working on deals with another three retailers at the moment.”
If contracts are signed with these three companies, all but two of the 65 units in the Regent Arcade would be occupied.
This follows the recent opening of H&M and a bigger River Island and TK Maxx in the Regent Arcade, as well as Sainsbury’s Local, Millets and STA Travel in The Strand area and many more around the town centre.
Mr Forward said the launch of the new high profile stores like H&M has played a part in attracting other retailers to Cheltenham.
“There has been an element of shops opening because H&M has,” he said.
“They have not just done it because H&M has opened as we were in negotiations before it opened, but people can see the benefits of H&M being a high profile unit.
“And some of the existing businesses are looking at revamping their units to look better.”
He added: “Without a doubt there is a renaissance of the Regent Arcade and the town centre. It’s giving Cheltenham even more of a high profile.”
However, he urged caution, saying that Cheltenham had not yet fully bounced back from the recession of recent years which saw scores of shops close down.
“There certainly seems to be a bit more confidence around, however it’s still not easy and I wouldn’t say we have bounced back just yet.”
Moda Collections owner Gurnam Gill has been running fashion stores across the Midlands for 30 years and said he chose Cheltenham for his latest venture because it is a popular shopping destination.
“We did a bit of research around the availability of shop units in various towns and felt that Cheltenham was the best place,” he said.
The shop, which sells clothes from Europe, is currently interviewing for four members of staff and a manager.
Shoppers in Cheltenham said they were delighted to see new stores springing up.
Sandra Burke, 55, who has been shopping in the town for more than 30 years, said: “In the past few years it has been all doom and gloom with shops closing down and people being laid off, so seeing all these new places opening and taking on staff is brilliant.”
Student Max Porter, who moved to Cheltenham from Southampton last month, said he was impressed by the town centre.
The 19-year-old said: “I’ve been out shopping a lot since I moved here and it’s always busy and there’s a good range of shops.”