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Business leader optimistic despite Clarks closure

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Tony Davey, Stroud Chamber of Trade leader, is pushing the half glass full narrative after the announcement that Clarks is due to close at the end of May. 

The shoe shop, on Stroud High Street, will close at the end of May, however Mr Davey remains upbeat, he said: “There is no denying that the announcement we are to lose Clarks from the high street is a blow to the town. Not only does the shop hold so many good memories for generations who have shopped there as Clarks and Milwards before it, but also because the staff there were held in good regard. I hope they may find alternative positions soon, and be supported in doing so. 

DSC2057 | Business leader optimistic despite Clarks closure
Tony Davey, Chair of Stroud Chamber of Trade. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

“Clarks has been thinning its estate for some time and I understand their Gloucester city centre store is closing too – so limiting the opportunities to shop with them face to face. This demonstrates the importance of being able to stay inline with the latest trends, but their push to online has naturally jeopardised the viability of their shops in towns and cities across the country.

“My own experiences have ended in a referral to their website to purchase, which has encouraged me to use alternative bricks and mortar retailers where I can better judge a style and fit.

“Nationally, our high streets face challenges, but it’s important to base comments and actions on facts and knowledge rather than guesses and emotion. The early data from an audit by the Stroud & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce, to be published soon, indicates that Stroud vacancy rates, analysing the over 350 commercial properties in the town, is currently in line with the national average. This is at odds with the few, but loud, social media commentators who seek to depress enthusiasm for the town and slate it at every opportunity.

“When we open our eyes to see what is happening around us, we see not simply gloom and doom, but units being refurbished and a list of openings in the coming weeks. It is not an aim to simply follow the national average, of course, and we are appropriately optimistic that with every closure comes a new opportunity.

“Our high streets are evolving, which means change, churn and new places to enjoy. It’s naïve, at best, to imagine the failure of a national chain, or its strategy change is a Stroud-centric issue.”

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