Fight to boost the high street

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Leading businessman Barry Denny has hit out at the ‘hypocrisy’ of shoppers towards independent traders.

Speaking at an Our Place meeting on Bury St Edmunds’ shops, the managing director of Denny Brothers whose businesses include a stationers and arts shop in King’s Road, said: “People are hypocritical. They’ll say ‘I want independent traders’ then they’ll go and buy on the internet and from the big chains.”

Bury Society chairman Alan Jary, who had 50 years in retail, backed Mr Denny adding: “The small trader is trading against the perception that the internet and multiples are cheaper, which is not always the case.”

They were addressing a meeting of the Suffolk County Council Our Place initiative for Bury, organised by councillor Mark Eriera, to bring interested parties together to look at ways of ‘keeping the independent sector viable’ and reduce the impact of empty shops on the town centre.

The 30-plus people attending included councillors, business people and representatives of business groups.

They heard that since St Edmundsbury Borough Council compiled a list of empty shops in January, eight had been leased so only 42 of the town’s 497 shops (8.4 per cent) are still vacant.

But some are in places where they have a disproportionate impact. Several people cited the Poundland end of Cornhill, were empty shops form a break between Buttermarket’s chain stores and St john’s Street’s independents.

See full story in tomorrow’s Bury Free Press.