Food is the theme for first ar­rivals in new shop­ping cen­tre

The Wokingham Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By JAMES HAST­INGS news@wok­ing­ham­pa­

AN AR­TI­SAN bak­ery loved by celebri­ties in­clud­ing David Beck­ham is one of the big names open­ing in the up­mar­ket Peace Place. GAIL’S Bak­ery has cho­sen Wok­ing­ham for only its third shop out­side Lon­don where it has branches in Hamp­stead, King’s Road and Not­ting Hill. The high-end frozen food re­tailer, Cook, has also an­nounced it is com­ing to Rose Street with two as yet un­named de­signer stores also in line to open in Peach Street. Town bosses are de­lighted that so many qual­ity out­lets are mov­ing to the re­vamped town cen­tre with more shops, bars and other busi­nesses to be named soon. These are seen as the ideal bal­ance for lo­cal in­de­pen­dents and bou­tiques. GAIL’S Bak­ery has 42 shops across Lon­don with Ox­ford and Hove the only towns out­side the cap­i­tal to have branches. It is a favourite with TV pre­sen­ters Richard and Judy and ac­tor Ewan McGre­gor.

A spokesper­son for the com­pany said: “GAIL’s Bak­ery will treat lo­cal res­i­dents in Wok­ing­ham to freshly baked loaves, cakes and lunches from the brand-new bak­ery.

“We bake over thirty types of bread ev­ery day, in­clud­ing clas­sics such as GAIL’s French Dark Sour­dough, baguettes, rye loaves and fruit breads. Break­fast is also served un­til 3pm ev­ery day and fresh pas­tries, sand­wiches, sal­ads and cakes are avail­able to en­joy in the bak­ery or for take­away.

“Along­side GAIL’s ex­pert bak­ers, their spe­cial­ist baris­tas will be serv­ing the unique, award-win­ning GAIL’s House Blend to cus­tomers.”

The re­mod­el­ing of the town cen­tre has caused a ma­jor up­heaval with ques­tions raised about the cost and nu­mer­ous com­plains about park­ing and street de­signs.

But the host of big name re­tail­ers who have de­cided to open in Wok­ing­ham will please coun­cil­lors.

Cllr Philip Mirfin, ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber for re­gen­er­a­tion, said: “We’ve spent a lot of time lis­ten­ing to peo­ple’s com­ments about the type of busi­nesses they would like to see in the town cen­tre and look­ing at the mix of shops in sim­i­lar towns to see what makes them a suc­cess.

“We’ve worked closely with our let­tings agents to make sure our vi­sion for the town – lots of lo­cal in­de­pen­dents and bou­tiques min­gling with ex­cel­lent na­tional names – be­comes a re­al­ity.

“GAIL’s Bak­ery is a fan­tas­tic ar­ti­san bak­ers found in great lo­ca­tions such as Hamp­stead, Chiswick and Rich­mond.

“We’ve had sev­eral res­i­dents men­tion them to us over the years and we’re very pleased they have cho­sen Wok­ing­ham to open one of their few stores out­side of Lon­don.

“This re­ally shows their con­fi­dence in our town and we think they will be a great fit for Wok­ing­ham.

“GAIL’s Bak­ery has a strong lo­cal feel and the qual­ity of their pro­duce re­ally stands out as does their award win­ning range of bread, pas­tries and cakes which are hand­made ev­ery day us­ing the best in­gre­di­ents.

“Cook will also be an ex­cel­lent ad­di­tion to the town and, in their new lo­ca­tion, on Rose Street, will help to draw peo­ple to and from Waitrose in­creas­ing foot­fall in the town cen­tre.

“Cook brings some­thing com­pletely new to the town cen­tre and, with their fan­tas­tic range of very high qual­ity food, will be a great com­ple­ment to other re­tail­ers in the town cen­tre and help at­tract new vis­i­tors to Wok­ing­ham.

“They also have great cre­den­tials as a busi­ness with an im­pres­sive range of com­mu­nity and char­i­ta­ble ac­tiv­i­ties un­der­taken as well as be­ing one of the best com­pa­nies to work for in the UK.”

Cllr Mirfin added that the new pedes­trian square will bring more in­de­pen­dent re­tail­ers to the town.

“We think they will work per­fectly fram­ing this more in­ti­mate space, with its op­por­tu­ni­ties for out­door seat­ing, re­lax­ation and com­mu­nity use.

“We’ve al­ready lined up lots of busi­nesses for this space and, fol­low­ing some in­ter­nal tweaks to these units to ac­com­mo­date their lay­outs, we ex­pect them to start open­ing up early next year and will be re­leas­ing some names soon.”

He said the coun­cil was “hold­ing back two units” on Peach Street for high-end fash­ion re­tail­ers who do not wish to open un­til next year.

These busi­nesses will join the list of op­er­a­tors al­ready se­cured for the town at Elms Field.

Re­tail­ers al­ready an­nounced in­clude bou­tique cin­ema Every­man Cin­e­mas), an Aldi food­store and a Premier Inn.

Bor­ough res­i­dents are set to ben­e­fit twice from the re­gen­er­a­tion schemes with the de­vel­op­ments de­liv­er­ing, not only a fan­tas­tic town cen­tre with far im­proved fa­cil­i­ties, but also gen­er­at­ing a brand new in­come year on year for the coun­cil which will be used to fund es­sen­tial ser­vices for all res­i­dents.

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