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Latest Town Centre Changes As Giraffe Closes And Theion Greek Restaurant Opens

Published on: 13 Jun, 2019
Updated on: 14 Jun, 2019

By Hugh Coakley

Giraffe, the restaurant chain, is closing its branch in Guildford’s upper High Street on Saturday, June 15.

The chain had announced in March 2019 that it had agreed a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) but the Guildford branch was not one of the 24 sites that were to be saved as part of the deal.

Three empty shops together in the upper High Street once Giraffe closes this Saturday. Maplins closed in June 2018 and Chilli Pickle earlier this month.

Lior Segev, a supervisor at the restaurant, said: “Some of the staff are being made redundant. It used to be very busy here three or four years ago. But not any more.

“I’m not jealous of any middle-range restaurant starting off now. Fast food outlets in the £6 to £9 range are doing ok and so are the higher-end restaurants but the casual dining places like Giraffe are suffering. People just order on Deliveroo and eat at home.”

Theion, the new Greek restaurant, opened in Chapel Street on Monday, June 10.

Hoping to confirm the analysis above, Theion, the new Greek restaurant in Chapel Street opened on Monday, June 10 after a complete refit of the building.

The aim for the owners, Denaxos Antonius and Theodorou Ioannis, who also own the fast food Greek restaurant Meat The Greek across the road, is for Theion to be high-end Greek cuisine with a contemporary feel.

Theion, modern Greek cuisine, in Chapel Street.

Talking at the new restaurant, Denaxos Antonius said: “We’ve had a good start at Theion. We are only open in the evenings so far but it is going well.”

Giraffe closing has coincided with Chilli Pickle, the Indian restaurant just two doors away, also shutting down unexpectedly. This leaves a disconsolate row of three empty shops together in the upper High Street.

Other areas in the town centre also looking abandoned include the bottom end of North Street, where Jamie’s Italian and New Look once traded and the top end of North Street where there is a row of three empty shops including the now closed post office building.

The lower end of North Street with empty shops after New Look and Jamie’s Italian both closed.

Empty shops together at the top of North Street including the closed post office which has moved to WH Smith in the High Street.

Changing eating habits have contributed to restaurants closing. But high costs including rents have also added to the pressures felt by shops around the country and in Guildford as well.

Arcadia, the giant clothing chain with a Topshop branch in The Friary, agreed a CVA with its landlords this week, slashing rents at its stores by 25% to 50%.

Nils Pratley, the Guardian’s financial editor, said in the paper yesterday: “The reality at Arcadia is that a near-billionaire asked to pay less rent – up to 50% less – on leases he had freely signed. And the landlords said yes. It can only mean rents in retail land still have a long way to fall.”

Local traders in the town have told The Guildford Dragon NEWS that they are frustrated that, unlike the chains who can use high-powered CVA tactics to force rents down, they are left with ‘no-rent reduction’ clauses in their leases.

The Dragon reported in March this year that a more than 20% rent reduction was needed to realistically let town centre retail properties.

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