Sony returns to Regent Arcade weeks after shutting up shop
JUST weeks after closing, a Cheltenham store is returning with a new boss.
The Sony Centre, based in Regent Arcade, was forced to shut in January when owner Paul Watkins' electrical goods empire collapsed.
But the high-tech store has found a saviour in John Hutchinson Electronics, which has stepped in to bring the electronics brand back to the town.
John Hutchinson, who owns two shops in the town, is rebranding his Panasonic store in the shopping centre as a Sony Centre.
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He will then move his Panasonic items to his general electrical store in High Street.
The news comes just a day after it was revealed dozens of shopping units lie empty across the centre of Cheltenham.
There are currently 62 spots lying vacant in the main part of town with the future of Game and Gamestation also looking uncertain.
Paul Watkins closed his six Sony Centres, including the outlet in Regent Arcade, after his struggling business went into administration in January.
Mr Hutchinson said he is confident the new venture will be a success, despite the previous store failing to survive.
He added: "As soon as I knew the Sony Centre was closing down, I put the wheels in motion.
"We don't think life is going to be a bed of roses but we are putting our heads down. It's a tough world we live in, but we run a very tight ship.
"There is a lot of uncertainty for everybody, but there were other issues surrounding the previous Sony Centre's closure.
"The store was on two floors which is difficult to manage cost effectively.
"But the Regent Arcade lends itself to high-tech products and we are already well-versed in Sony."
Mr Hutchinson has a total of four stores around the country, including Sony Centres in Hereford and Worcester.
He has been running an electronics store in Cheltenham since 1986.
The company has taken on six of the employees from the former Sony store in addition to its own existing staff.
John Forward, centre manager of the Regent Arcade, said he was delighted the brand was returning to the town.
"Sony has always been one of the market leaders in electronics from computers to televisions - it's great to have a Sony Centre back in the Arcade," he said.