Thursday, 17 August 2017

Off-licence at heart of town closes

Spirited Wines in Market Place ceased trading on Sunday after almost five years

AN off-licence in Henley town centre has closed.

Spirited Wines in Market Place ceased trading on Sunday after almost five years.

The premises was home to Nicholas Wines before it was bought by Benoit Thouvenint and renamed in 2007.

Jade Boussinesq, manager at Spirited Wines, is one of two full-time staff to lose their jobs.

She worked for Nicholas Wines and was retained by Mr Thouvenin when he took over the business. She said: ?It is sad for the town to lose this kind of business but I have found a lot of people go to Marlow, which is a very vibrant town. There are now a lot of big chains in Henley and it is not what it used to be.?

She said she went to a wine tasting event in Marlow recently and the town was very busy when she left at 10.15pm but when she got back to Henley she saw only two people in the Market Place. Miss Boussinesq also said the business had failed to negotiate a new rent agreement.

Meanwhile, estate agents Daltons in Reading Road also closed at the weekend and the front window has been covered with brown paper.

Owner Paul Dalton, who set up the estate agents in the early Eighties, died from pancreatic cancer in January and his daughter had been running the business since then.

Gifts and homeware chain Vinegar Hill will open its ninth store in the former Browns furniture shop in Duke Street, which closed in March after 25 years, on May 16. Richard Austin, the managing director, launched the business with his sisters, Beth and Debbie, in 1995.

They already own stores in Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath, Bristol, Cheltenham, Hitchin, Shrewsbury and Windsor. Mr Austin said he had been looking to open a store in Henley for about three years but had been waiting for a suitable premises to become available.

He said: ?The demographic of the town is a good fit for us and the aim is to employ local people. A good occupancy rate is a good sign for us and Henley is a pretty good mix of some staple high street stores, independents and coffee shops. The square is also a real focal point.?

Last month, the Henley Standard reported that the number of empty shops in Henley was almost at a record low with only 13 of the 269 retail units in the town centre vacant. Six of them, including Browns, were already let or under offer.

The closure of Spirited Wines and Daltons means there will be nine empty units, giving an overall shop vacancy rate of 3.3 per cent.

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