Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Wet weather put off customers during regatta

TRADERS in Henley town centre experienced mixed fortunes during this year’s royal regatta.

TRADERS in Henley town centre experienced mixed fortunes during this year’s royal regatta.

Some enjoyed record takings as more crews than ever before took part in the five-day racing event which took place two weeks ago.

However, others said wind, rain and overcast skies on the first three days had deterred customers.

The Chocolate Café in Thames Side was among the businesses that enjoyed their most successful regatta to date.

Manager Hattie Barford said: “We did really well. Lots of people were coming in for breakfast every morning, which is always our busiest time, but trade was consistently pretty strong.



“I think the large number of entries to the regatta helped. We had a lot of crews coming in as well as their supporters and families. We also get plenty of repeat customers.”

The Argyll in Market Place reported that their food and drink sales were up by at least 10 per cent on last year. Landlord Neil Ainsworth said: “Despite a rainy start we were blessed with good weather later in the week and it seemed to run more smoothly than ever.

“Having the regatta broadcast on television is a great advertisement for the town and the record number of entries made a difference.”

River operator and boat hire firm Hobbs of Henley enjoyed record bookings. Managing director Jonathan Hobbs said: “It started pretty quietly because of the rain but it picked up over the weekend although I have to say that, in general, the river frontage felt quieter than usual.”

The Three Tuns, also in Market Place, fared similarly to last year, when trade was up by about 10 per cent on 2014.

General manager Hannah Richards said: “It was another stonking regatta for us and we were really thrilled. We had lots of diners from fairly early on and plenty of drinkers in later. It could have been another record year but we lost a large corporate booking at the last minute because of the Brexit vote.”

Lorraine Hillier, who owns the Hot Gossip coffee shop in Friday Street and the Upstairs and Downstairs tea rooms in Duke Street, said both businesses fared better than previously.

She said: “Trade wasn’t at all good last year because it was so hot and people wanted to be outside. It was more mixed and changeable this year so people spent a bit less time at the regatta site, which to be honest is good for us.”

Mark Dunlop, the landlord of the Angel on the Bridge in Thames Side, attracted less trade than last year. He said: “Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday were quieter than in recent years but we were at capacity on Friday and Saturday, as always. We had to start a ‘one-in, one-out’ policy by 8pm on both days.”

Laurence Morris, who owns Laurence Menswear in Duke Street, enjoyed record takings in 2014 and 2015 but said trade was down slightly this year.

“The early part of the week wasn’t great but it picked up considerably on Saturday,” he said. “There were a lot of rowers who needed blazers as they had been knocked out of the racing and wanted to watch the rest of the regatta from the stewards’ enclosure.”

Liz Felix, of Liz Felix Millinery in Reading Road, said footfall was down. She said: “Passing trade was hugely down because of the weather. There seemed to be a lot fewer people wandering around when it was cold and wet, which is a shame.”

Craig Walton, co-director of Louise Claire Millinery in Market Place, added: “We’re happy with our performance but the weather plays a big part in how we do. The abysmal conditions deterred people, particularly on the Wednesday.”

Gillian Nahum, who owns the Boatique gift shop and Henley Sales and Charter boat hire firm in Friday Street, and chairs the Henley Business Partnership’s retail group, said: “It was very quiet in Boatique leading up to the Friday. We only had three transactions on the Wednesday, which is pretty awful. Everybody I’ve spoken to has said similar things.”



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