'One shop's closure is an opportunity for others'
Property experts say the demise of a number of High Street chains has had a silver lining for Bath.
Empty shop units plague most high streets up and down the country, but in Bath, agents say they don't stay vacant for long.
According to commercial property expert, Mike McElhinney, there has been a positive side-effect of the recession, which has seen many big name casualties leave the city.
He says such is the demand that when one shop closes, another quickly fills its place, with firms that have been queuing up to establish a presence in Bath finally getting a foot in the door.
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Lead director of the Bath office of Jones Lang LaSalle, Mr McElhinney said: "From the ashes of business failures in Bath city centre, opportunities have been created that enrich and strengthen its retail offer.
"Almost without exception, these vacant units have created openings for new retailers coming to the city for the first time and have allowed those that are already present and doing well to expand their businesses."
Mr McElhinney said an example was the expansion of Molton Brown from its old premises on New Bond Street to the old Jane Norman shop in Union Street.
Other examples include the arrival of new big names such as TX Maxx taking over the old JJB Sports shop in High Street, The Perfume Shop moving into the old Game store at Stall Street, and German ladies' fashion retailer OSKA starting its first shop in Bath on Upper Borough Walls, replacing Funky Bambini.
Mr McElhinney added that despite the doom and gloom of some forecasts, he believed Bath's retail sector had a strong future with a mix of national chains and independent businesses.
He said: "The future is certainly looking strong for the region. SouthGate's undoubted success and the huge public realm improvements on the main approach from Bath Spa station are both contributing factors, together with the decent transport interchange and efficient park and ride sites around the city."
Mr McElhinney's optimism comes during a week when the high street has suffered two heavy blows with the collapse of Jessops and the announcement that HMV has gone into administration.
Jessops confirmed last Friday that after just two days in administration all of its 187 stores, including the one in SouthGate, would close with the loss of 1,370 jobs nationally and nine in Bath.
On Tuesday HMV announced that it had appointed Deloitte LLP as administrators, putting its 238 stores at risk along with more than 4,000 jobs nationwide.
In a statement the company, which has a shop on Stall Street, said: "The board regrets to announce that it has been unable to reach a position where it feels able to continue to trade outside of insolvency protection, and in the circumstances therefore intends to file notice to appoint administrators to the company and certain of its subsidiaries with immediate effect."