Monday, 20 September 2021

Shop closes for third time

A CLOTHES shop in Henley is shutting for the third time in less than a decade

A CLOTHES shop in Henley is shutting for the third time in less than a decade.

Noa Noa in Duke Street is holding a closing down sale and will cease trading as soon as it runs out of stock.

David Jack, who runs the franchise with his business partner Marilyn Farmar, of St Andrew’s Road, Henley, said it was becoming harder to compete with larger fashion retailers operating high street outlets, department store concessions and online shops.

These businesses could offer free postage and packaging and lower prices because they bought their goods direct from manufacturers and benefited from the economy of scale, he said.

Noa Noa closed in 2008 and was re-opened in 2009 by Yvonne Phillips, who said at the time that retail in Henley was “about to take off”.

However, she decided to shut in the summer of 2013 and Mr Jack and Mrs Farmar took over that autumn.

Mr Jack, who lives in London and has also run the neighbouring Hubbleday’s hhomeware store since 2001, said footfall in Henley had steadily declined over the past 15 years.

In 2010 there were almost 14,000 individual transactions at Hubbleday’s but last year there were just over 8,500.

Mr Jack said: “Henley isn’t what it was. Footfall has taken a nosedive and I should know because I’ve monitored it very closely.

“I think every market town in the England is suffering to a certain extent. Footfall is still strong in places like Marlow because they’ve remained fairly diverse with a good mix of independent and bigger retailers.

“That makes it fairly inviting whereas the dynamics in Henley are different. We only had one charity shop and two nail bars 15 years ago and didn’t have any of the big-name coffee shops. I was very sad when Cargo in Market Place and Henley Villa in Duke Street closed. They were technically competitors but having four of us in town increased consumer choice and benefited everyone.”

Mr Jack has no plans to shut Hubbleday’s but said that business was also facing increased competition from the internet.

He said: “The truth about the high street, and perhaps Henley is ahead of the curve in this regard, is that its future doesn’t look very happy unless rents and rates come down to a reasonable level.

“My last rates bill for Hubbleday’s alone came in at £11,300 and I nearly died when I received it. It’s making things harder at a time when fewer and fewer people shop on the high street.”

Noa Noa, which is a Danish company, has seven other shops in Chelsea, Bath, Brighton, York, Olney, Canterbury and Cambridge. Søren Kok Jacobsen, franchise area manager for Noa Noa, said the company was looking for a new manager..

Meanwhile, the former Casa Nostra Italian restaurant in Reading Road, Henley, which shut in 2013, is to re-open as Cicchetti Bar.

The old red frontage has been repainted grey and workmen are now refurbishing the interior.

The business is owned by Nuno Rosado, who also runs The Square Portuguese restaurant in Market Place.

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