Closures can’t dress up our town’s decline
Concerns are growing among locals this week as another two town traders bite the dust, leaving both central and prime commercial premises empty and denying residents two invaluable longstanding chains, namely Burton’s Menswear, which has chosen not to renew its lease (but is still trading in other towns), and BHS British Home Stores, a national chain that has been in administration since April.
In the last week, it has been announced that stores will now close as administrators have failed to find a buyer.
We are unsure of the opinions of those who run this town, but as a resident both born and bred in Ashford I am extremely concerned that little seems to have been done to encourage traders to stay and entice others in.
McArthur Glen is doing extremely well with its tenant base of multinational traders, but the heart of Ashford has become very much like a ghost town.
The business rates for Ashford are some of the highest in the South East and I know of many a trader both chain and independent that has barely lasted a year.
There is a continual pattern of traders coming and going in such a short space of time – surely the alarm bells have been ringing to the authorities by now.
In the case of Burton’s, the longstanding tailor and menswear shop, it is not the only chain tailor to depart the high street over the years.
This week, Remember When looks at a trio of images depicting our losses in all things attire.
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Upper High Street, 1960. A splendid view showing the Ashford branch of Burton Tailoring (previously known as Montague Burton), pictured at the start of the swinging sixties. After 84 years of trade in the town, current owner Arcadia Group has chosen not to renew the lease on the building. The branch will close on June 16.
Bank Street junction with Upper High Street, 1962. Hepworths graced the town for many years at this prime corner plot on the High Street. Located directly opposite Burton’s, the company founded in 1864 was consumed by the Next clothing chain in the early 1980s and this branch closed.