Wantage town centre about to lose more stores

Herald Series: Jay Cleary, the manager of Stead & Simpson shoe shop Jay Cleary, the manager of Stead & Simpson shoe shop

WANTAGE is losing two more town centre shops with traders blaming tough economic conditions.

The town is to be left without a shoe shop as Stead & Simpson in the Market Place is to shut. And the Wantage Health Store in Wallingford Street is set to close after 29 years in the town.

The shoe shop, which has been in the town for about 15 years, collected 2,000 signatures on a petition against the closure but the company has decided to press ahead with closure.

Manager Jay Cleary said seven jobs would be lost.

She said: “They (shoppers) are coming in and asking to sign the petition because there is no where else they will be able to buy their shoes. They really want it to stay open.

“People of the town don’t want to lose the shop and we don’t want to lose our jobs.”

Wantage Town Council member John Morgan said it was a shame to lose a business from such a central location. He said: “Any empty shop is bad for Wantage.”

The Oxford Mail was last night unable to contact the landlord of the shop or Wantage Health Store owner Karen Treanor.

Stead & Simpson spokesman Charlotte Voss said: “The store is closing down due to poor performance and rising costs.

“We always try to redeploy any staff affected to nearby stores wherever possible.

“The date of closure is not yet confirmed.”

The town’s other shoe shop, Geoffrey Bailey Shoes, will close at the end of the month after nearly 110 years in the town as Mr Bailey’s daughter Helen Hook does not wish to continue the family business when her parents retire.

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6:12pm Fri 7 Sep 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

I hope that stearn look was saved for the newspaper photographer.

If the shop is turning a profit, albeit not enough to meet the needs of a national, then the best thing for the manager to do is to pick up the phone to the property company and find out how much the lease will cost to buy.

Identify key suppliers and an accountant for the books and salaries

Then re-open the shop herself. It can be done.
I hope that stearn look was saved for the newspaper photographer. If the shop is turning a profit, albeit not enough to meet the needs of a national, then the best thing for the manager to do is to pick up the phone to the property company and find out how much the lease will cost to buy. Identify key suppliers and an accountant for the books and salaries Then re-open the shop herself. It can be done. Andrew:Oxford

7:37pm Fri 7 Sep 12

aVoter says...

What a great idea Andrew, shame it's not based in reality. Where do you suggest the manager would find the money to buy the lease? Not from a bank, as surely you will know banks are generally not lending to business start ups right now! There is also a huge difference between being a shop manager and business owner.

However, you make it sound so easy, why don't you re-open it?
What a great idea Andrew, shame it's not based in reality. Where do you suggest the manager would find the money to buy the lease? Not from a bank, as surely you will know banks are generally not lending to business start ups right now! There is also a huge difference between being a shop manager and business owner. However, you make it sound so easy, why don't you re-open it? aVoter

8:24pm Fri 7 Sep 12

Myron Blatz says...

Get real 'Andrew' the closing shops in Wantage are because of superstore competition and 'developer fever' like has happened in all the main towns in Oxfordshire, and especially Abingdon and Bicester where landlords and developers have been trying to knock down and build for years - its how they make their disgusting profits. Retailing in our towns is no longer driven by public demand and what is needed, but by who can afford outrageous rent and leases. rumour has it that B&Q were forced out of the John Allen Cenre at Cowley when the developer wanted to decrease floorspace and hike the annual rent by 70% - despite th UK being in the grips of the worst recession in modern history. It's also common knowledge that cash-rich Sainsbury's wanted to buy back into the Cowley which the retailer deserted several years back. Maybe ASDA ought to be allowed to compete with Sainsbury's on food etc - and let dog-eat-dog and give the public and shoppers the opportunity to benefit from open competition, instead of retail monopoly by the big supermarkets and chains - the very businesses which kill small local shops and retailers in places like Wantage.
Get real 'Andrew' the closing shops in Wantage are because of superstore competition and 'developer fever' like has happened in all the main towns in Oxfordshire, and especially Abingdon and Bicester where landlords and developers have been trying to knock down and build for years - its how they make their disgusting profits. Retailing in our towns is no longer driven by public demand and what is needed, but by who can afford outrageous rent and leases. rumour has it that B&Q were forced out of the John Allen Cenre at Cowley when the developer wanted to decrease floorspace and hike the annual rent by 70% - despite th UK being in the grips of the worst recession in modern history. It's also common knowledge that cash-rich Sainsbury's wanted to buy back into the Cowley which the retailer deserted several years back. Maybe ASDA ought to be allowed to compete with Sainsbury's on food etc - and let dog-eat-dog and give the public and shoppers the opportunity to benefit from open competition, instead of retail monopoly by the big supermarkets and chains - the very businesses which kill small local shops and retailers in places like Wantage. Myron Blatz

6:45am Sat 8 Sep 12

Myron Blatz says...

Petitions started by people concerned about what is happening in our communities are more likely to be 'put into the nearest bin' by those against freedom of speech, people's rights (including those who criticise people who criticise!) and government and local authorities who think democracy is a four-letter word! As for Temple Cowley Pool ..... at least part of the reason it has become a liability has been down to City Council's lack of on-going investment in the facility, and what CEO Peter Sloman admitted had been a 'probable lack of proper maintenance' at one of the more 'open' meetings by City Council. Without freedom of speech, the right to protest and petition, people with different viewpoints wouldn't be able to have a their say and make comments in newspapers like the Oxford Mail & Times - and we wouldn't see people being able to freely stand as independent city councillors for election onto Oxford City Council, for that matter!
Petitions started by people concerned about what is happening in our communities are more likely to be 'put into the nearest bin' by those against freedom of speech, people's rights (including those who criticise people who criticise!) and government and local authorities who think democracy is a four-letter word! As for Temple Cowley Pool ..... at least part of the reason it has become a liability has been down to City Council's lack of on-going investment in the facility, and what CEO Peter Sloman admitted had been a 'probable lack of proper maintenance' at one of the more 'open' meetings by City Council. Without freedom of speech, the right to protest and petition, people with different viewpoints wouldn't be able to have a their say and make comments in newspapers like the Oxford Mail & Times - and we wouldn't see people being able to freely stand as independent city councillors for election onto Oxford City Council, for that matter! Myron Blatz

9:59am Sat 8 Sep 12

aVoter says...

Temple Cowley Pool is an entirely separate issue. Business owners (national or independent) make decisions based on the cash in the till not names on a piece of paper. Had those 2000 people been regular customers of the shoe shop, it wouldn't be closing. If people don't use their local shops they can't complain when they close.
Temple Cowley Pool is an entirely separate issue. Business owners (national or independent) make decisions based on the cash in the till not names on a piece of paper. Had those 2000 people been regular customers of the shoe shop, it wouldn't be closing. If people don't use their local shops they can't complain when they close. aVoter

9:00pm Sat 8 Sep 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

aVoter wrote:
What a great idea Andrew, shame it's not based in reality. Where do you suggest the manager would find the money to buy the lease? Not from a bank, as surely you will know banks are generally not lending to business start ups right now! There is also a huge difference between being a shop manager and business owner.

However, you make it sound so easy, why don't you re-open it?
Nonsense, don't believe everything you read in the papers about "the banks not lending". For every indignant "entrepreneur" who gets their mugshot in the paper because "the banks won't lend", there are dozens of start ups and small business who are borrowing and repaying as usual.

There's always a good reason when the decision not to lend is made. Sadly "the banks" aren't allowed to publish the debt history or criminal history of those refused debt when the papers come calling. Sometimes it's as simple as the business plan is complete nonsense, or worse the figures don't actually add up.

Chatting to friends in the sector, it's looking like the property will be available from 30th September onwards for £14-16K per annum (paid quarterly in advance) with an initial 3 month rent free period.

Clarks have franchising opportunities in the area...

Whilst I'd be perfectly capable of operating the outlet profitably, there's no way I'd want to get close enough to someone elses feet to sell shoes.
[quote][p][bold]aVoter[/bold] wrote: What a great idea Andrew, shame it's not based in reality. Where do you suggest the manager would find the money to buy the lease? Not from a bank, as surely you will know banks are generally not lending to business start ups right now! There is also a huge difference between being a shop manager and business owner. However, you make it sound so easy, why don't you re-open it?[/p][/quote]Nonsense, don't believe everything you read in the papers about "the banks not lending". For every indignant "entrepreneur" who gets their mugshot in the paper because "the banks won't lend", there are dozens of start ups and small business who are borrowing and repaying as usual. There's always a good reason when the decision not to lend is made. Sadly "the banks" aren't allowed to publish the debt history or criminal history of those refused debt when the papers come calling. Sometimes it's as simple as the business plan is complete nonsense, or worse the figures don't actually add up. Chatting to friends in the sector, it's looking like the property will be available from 30th September onwards for £14-16K per annum (paid quarterly in advance) with an initial 3 month rent free period. Clarks have franchising opportunities in the area... Whilst I'd be perfectly capable of operating the outlet profitably, there's no way I'd want to get close enough to someone elses feet to sell shoes. Andrew:Oxford

1:54am Sun 9 Sep 12

aVoter says...

You are so right! It's really cheap to have a shop! Independents should be rolling in money, especially in small market towns. Oh no, hang on, they're all closing down... perhaps they don't make much money? Perhaps customers aren't shopping in small towns? Oh no, perhaps there are more issues and costs to take into account than just the lease...
You are so right! It's really cheap to have a shop! Independents should be rolling in money, especially in small market towns. Oh no, hang on, they're all closing down... perhaps they don't make much money? Perhaps customers aren't shopping in small towns? Oh no, perhaps there are more issues and costs to take into account than just the lease... aVoter

11:49am Sun 9 Sep 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

aVoter wrote:
You are so right! It's really cheap to have a shop! Independents should be rolling in money, especially in small market towns. Oh no, hang on, they're all closing down... perhaps they don't make much money? Perhaps customers aren't shopping in small towns? Oh no, perhaps there are more issues and costs to take into account than just the lease...
So what you are now saying is "the banks" should stop lending to independent retailers in market towns because people aren't going there anymore? You can't have it both ways!

One of the primary costs within national chains is the head-office costs that are charged back to individual units - this can make a shop that technically makes a profit into one that makes a hefty loss.

Personally, I like shopping in market towns. I can drive to Witney, park, and enjoy the blend of nationals and independents for less than it costs to park in the Westgate or P&R.

Perhaps the market towns should follow the lead of Northumberland? They are planning on marketing themselves for the Scottish Booze-Cruise market when the minimum pricing laws are implemented. It doesn't cost that much to do a mass leafleting of Oxford via Royal Mail to make residents aware of the shopping with free-parking within 15 mins of Oxford.

"Fifteen Minutes to Freedom" Campaign?
[quote][p][bold]aVoter[/bold] wrote: You are so right! It's really cheap to have a shop! Independents should be rolling in money, especially in small market towns. Oh no, hang on, they're all closing down... perhaps they don't make much money? Perhaps customers aren't shopping in small towns? Oh no, perhaps there are more issues and costs to take into account than just the lease...[/p][/quote]So what you are now saying is "the banks" should stop lending to independent retailers in market towns because people aren't going there anymore? You can't have it both ways! One of the primary costs within national chains is the head-office costs that are charged back to individual units - this can make a shop that technically makes a profit into one that makes a hefty loss. Personally, I like shopping in market towns. I can drive to Witney, park, and enjoy the blend of nationals and independents for less than it costs to park in the Westgate or P&R. Perhaps the market towns should follow the lead of Northumberland? They are planning on marketing themselves for the Scottish Booze-Cruise market when the minimum pricing laws are implemented. It doesn't cost that much to do a mass leafleting of Oxford via Royal Mail to make residents aware of the shopping with free-parking within 15 mins of Oxford. "Fifteen Minutes to Freedom" Campaign? Andrew:Oxford

12:00pm Sun 9 Sep 12

smithadm says...

Seeing so many shops close in Wantage is worrying! This article only mentions two, but there are many more that have gone in the past 6 months, and so many new sops that start and are gone only a few months later.

I know the an occupied shop is better than and unoccupied shop, and jobs are jobs! However, we also need to be careful to ensure we attract the right kinds of businesses into those empt shops - an you believe that a 'bargain' chemist shop is openin next to BOOTS in the old clothes shop? Or the our new retail park next to Sainsburys has not fewer than three bargain shops!

Is Wantage going down market, or down hill or both? And what is ours Tory council and Tory MP doing to help?
Seeing so many shops close in Wantage is worrying! This article only mentions two, but there are many more that have gone in the past 6 months, and so many new sops that start and are gone only a few months later. I know the an occupied shop is better than and unoccupied shop, and jobs are jobs! However, we also need to be careful to ensure we attract the right kinds of businesses into those empt shops - an you believe that a 'bargain' chemist shop is openin next to BOOTS in the old clothes shop? Or the our new retail park next to Sainsburys has not fewer than three bargain shops! Is Wantage going down market, or down hill or both? And what is ours Tory council and Tory MP doing to help? smithadm

12:01pm Sun 9 Sep 12

smithadm says...

PS sorry about all the typos!
PS sorry about all the typos! smithadm

12:12pm Sun 9 Sep 12

aVoter says...

I'm moving to Andrew's world - where everything is so simple.
I'm moving to Andrew's world - where everything is so simple. aVoter

12:30pm Sun 9 Sep 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

aVoter wrote:
I'm moving to Andrew's world - where everything is so simple.
Oh no, things are very complex.

I'm delighted that you have chosen me, someone with decades of experience in the commercial property, commercial lending, accountancy and insolvency industries to help you simplify these complex issues.
[quote][p][bold]aVoter[/bold] wrote: I'm moving to Andrew's world - where everything is so simple.[/p][/quote]Oh no, things are very complex. I'm delighted that you have chosen me, someone with decades of experience in the commercial property, commercial lending, accountancy and insolvency industries to help you simplify these complex issues. Andrew:Oxford

7:45am Mon 10 Sep 12

Victor's_friend says...

Trust that the manager does not look like the photo when people are coming towards her shop!

Would like to either state some facts or things particular to this shop to perhaps explain the real reason it is closing. It may have been a shoe shop for 15 years but say 5 years ago the group owner put it up for sale or it was taken over and then there was a massive 'closing down' sale - I know because I bought some shoes. It may have actually shut, but then only for the time it takes to restock. I think it was acquired by the group that includes shoezone, basically cheap/chearful footwear. If that is so, which I think it is as I've never seen the brands in there in any quality footwear store, So it may seem that this group is rolling out cheap not good footwear in shops that previously sold lots of high quality ones, so it then has a changer of customer type, not enough, say to its other shops in 'poorer' areas, if you know what I mean. Also, Wantage has many more other outlets selling footwear as well as the big shop; Sainsbury's Tu, Family Bargains, charity shops, The Shop, Broadway Motors for wellingtons, the footwear repairer opposite Specsavers?

Regarding B & Q in Cowley, staff there told me that the council owns the site and they set up there on the condition that there was free parking. There has been talk of parking charges and finally their rent review has rocketed to beyond reasonable such that they were forced to shut. Remember, that that was the first Superwarehouse outside Slough. Sainsbury's was also mentioned and the staff were unsure about their future. I shall miss that massive well-stocked store as the Abingdon one is crap. Disappointing now that Oxford now has a Wickes, several Homebase and builders merchants. Guess if Sainsbury's move in there'll be another Homebase?

That is why it is best to have good quality footwear as retailers like to make us 'walk'
Trust that the manager does not look like the photo when people are coming towards her shop! Would like to either state some facts or things particular to this shop to perhaps explain the real reason it is closing. It may have been a shoe shop for 15 years but say 5 years ago the group owner put it up for sale or it was taken over and then there was a massive 'closing down' sale - I know because I bought some shoes. It may have actually shut, but then only for the time it takes to restock. I think it was acquired by the group that includes shoezone, basically cheap/chearful footwear. If that is so, which I think it is as I've never seen the brands in there in any quality footwear store, So it may seem that this group is rolling out cheap not good footwear in shops that previously sold lots of high quality ones, so it then has a changer of customer type, not enough, say to its other shops in 'poorer' areas, if you know what I mean. Also, Wantage has many more other outlets selling footwear as well as the big shop; Sainsbury's Tu, Family Bargains, charity shops, The Shop, Broadway Motors for wellingtons, the footwear repairer opposite Specsavers? Regarding B & Q in Cowley, staff there told me that the council owns the site and they set up there on the condition that there was free parking. There has been talk of parking charges and finally their rent review has rocketed to beyond reasonable such that they were forced to shut. Remember, that that was the first Superwarehouse outside Slough. Sainsbury's was also mentioned and the staff were unsure about their future. I shall miss that massive well-stocked store as the Abingdon one is crap. Disappointing now that Oxford now has a Wickes, several Homebase and builders merchants. Guess if Sainsbury's move in there'll be another Homebase? That is why it is best to have good quality footwear as retailers like to make us 'walk' Victor's_friend

9:05am Mon 10 Sep 12

Victor's_friend says...

Is it true that Stan James betting shop in Newbury Street is closing down, due to the current economic climate? Perhaps they set their odds unfavourably.

Guess, at least we don't have a shop like the one in historic Abingdon market place with its windows plastered up with 'we buy gold' bright garish posters you can't see through. Or the likes of Quicksilver amusements, Cash generator/exchange.

Seems that for a change Councillor Jenny's loads of bollards is no more, or at least they have gone now. Shame she hasn't done anything about the state of the neighbouring property that looks like it's falling down.

Has the market place moved towards Kings Walk as indicated by the town council finger in grove street?
Is it true that Stan James betting shop in Newbury Street is closing down, due to the current economic climate? Perhaps they set their odds unfavourably. Guess, at least we don't have a shop like the one in historic Abingdon market place with its windows plastered up with 'we buy gold' bright garish posters you can't see through. Or the likes of Quicksilver amusements, Cash generator/exchange. Seems that for a change Councillor Jenny's loads of bollards is no more, or at least they have gone now. Shame she hasn't done anything about the state of the neighbouring property that looks like it's falling down. Has the market place moved towards Kings Walk as indicated by the town council finger in grove street? Victor's_friend

9:10am Mon 10 Sep 12

Victor's_friend says...

Rumour is that a major cinematic activity will be shortly in the centre of Wantage, reportedly set aside a massive funding, now requiring some 5000 pounds, some of which the regent cinema campaign group still has from the donor campaign set up in Dec 2005.

www.wantagecinema.co
.uk
Rumour is that a major cinematic activity will be shortly in the centre of Wantage, reportedly set aside a massive funding, now requiring some 5000 pounds, some of which the regent cinema campaign group still has from the donor campaign set up in Dec 2005. www.wantagecinema.co .uk Victor's_friend

9:44pm Mon 10 Sep 12

flynn77 says...

“They (shoppers) are coming in and asking to sign the petition because there is no where else they will be able to buy their shoes. They really want it to stay open


No wonder she's failed as a business person when she's failed to recognise she has another shoe shop not 100 yards from her front door. Still good to see she has that indignant look normally reserved for Jenny Hannaby, she must of leant her personal WH photographer for the occasion.

P.S. Cheer up shoppers we've another sponger shop on it's way next to Boots. You can almost smell the benefits around Wantage now.
[quote]“They (shoppers) are coming in and asking to sign the petition because there is no where else they will be able to buy their shoes. They really want it to stay open[/quote] No wonder she's failed as a business person when she's failed to recognise she has another shoe shop not 100 yards from her front door. Still good to see she has that indignant look normally reserved for Jenny Hannaby, she must of leant her personal WH photographer for the occasion. P.S. Cheer up shoppers we've another sponger shop on it's way next to Boots. You can almost smell the benefits around Wantage now. flynn77

12:06pm Wed 12 Sep 12

Garage Man says...

It is a generally sad indictment of our town that so many shops seem to be empty (the old Wessex Print offices have remained empty since the day that they were refurbished) and we're probably running at about 70% occupancy taking the whole town centre into consideration right now. With 'established' local businesses closing their doors as well as newer ones that have only been in existence for 1-2 years its hard to see what the pattern is. However, with this particular shop the rot probably set in with the loss of the Clarks franchise as we shopped there for our childrens school shoes and trainers and also our own work wear. We recognised that we would pay more but received good quality footwear in return. By moving to a cheaper product line this placed Stead and Simpson in direct competition with Sainsburys and New Look (to name but 2) where the cheaper/throwaway option will always be lower priced. It is interesting to see that Geoffrey Bailey managed to exist by providing a 'premium' product line and is only closing due to a lack of a family member being willing to continue. We are seeing success in the 'quality' approach from other stores in the town such as Montgomeries, the local sports shop and other independent (or small chain) clothes shops who differentiate themselves through better overall service even if their goods cost more and hopefully this will be picked up on by future store occupants. A loyal customer base can be built through providing good quality products and service and price is not always the differentiator.
It is a generally sad indictment of our town that so many shops seem to be empty (the old Wessex Print offices have remained empty since the day that they were refurbished) and we're probably running at about 70% occupancy taking the whole town centre into consideration right now. With 'established' local businesses closing their doors as well as newer ones that have only been in existence for 1-2 years its hard to see what the pattern is. However, with this particular shop the rot probably set in with the loss of the Clarks franchise as we shopped there for our childrens school shoes and trainers and also our own work wear. We recognised that we would pay more but received good quality footwear in return. By moving to a cheaper product line this placed Stead and Simpson in direct competition with Sainsburys and New Look (to name but 2) where the cheaper/throwaway option will always be lower priced. It is interesting to see that Geoffrey Bailey managed to exist by providing a 'premium' product line and is only closing due to a lack of a family member being willing to continue. We are seeing success in the 'quality' approach from other stores in the town such as Montgomeries, the local sports shop and other independent (or small chain) clothes shops who differentiate themselves through better overall service even if their goods cost more and hopefully this will be picked up on by future store occupants. A loyal customer base can be built through providing good quality products and service and price is not always the differentiator. Garage Man

1:46pm Wed 12 Sep 12

aVoter says...

I'm not convinced at all by Geoffrey Bailey closing because the family member wasn't willing to continue! If it was successfully making a good profit there would be no reason to close, it could have been sold, they could have got a manager in etc. They are hardly going to close saying it's down to low profits. They will be suffering just as much as every other shop in Wantage.
I'm not convinced at all by Geoffrey Bailey closing because the family member wasn't willing to continue! If it was successfully making a good profit there would be no reason to close, it could have been sold, they could have got a manager in etc. They are hardly going to close saying it's down to low profits. They will be suffering just as much as every other shop in Wantage. aVoter

11:12am Thu 13 Sep 12

## Nonny Mouse ## says...

Geoffrey Bailey owns the building his shop is in so he will continue to make some money out of the premises, perhaps more lucrative than shoes.

I have lived in or nearby Wantage for around 20 years and can't actually say i have ever been in there.
Geoffrey Bailey owns the building his shop is in so he will continue to make some money out of the premises, perhaps more lucrative than shoes. I have lived in or nearby Wantage for around 20 years and can't actually say i have ever been in there. ## Nonny Mouse ##

8:55pm Thu 13 Sep 12

skivvy says...

No wonder she's failed as a business person when she's failed to recognise she has another shoe shop not 100 yards from her front door. Still good to see she has that indignant look normally reserved for Jenny Hannaby, she must of leant her personal WH photographer for the occasion.

P.S. Cheer up shoppers we've another sponger shop on it's way next to Boots. You can almost smell the benefits around Wantage now.

I take it this is a pop at people that are on benefits?
Just remember not everyone on benefits is a sponger. Some need benefits through illness and disability.
No wonder she's failed as a business person when she's failed to recognise she has another shoe shop not 100 yards from her front door. Still good to see she has that indignant look normally reserved for Jenny Hannaby, she must of leant her personal WH photographer for the occasion. P.S. Cheer up shoppers we've another sponger shop on it's way next to Boots. You can almost smell the benefits around Wantage now. I take it this is a pop at people that are on benefits? Just remember not everyone on benefits is a sponger. Some need benefits through illness and disability. skivvy

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