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Letter: Why No Fatface in Guildford?

Published on: 14 Sep, 2021
Updated on: 14 Sep, 2021

From: Gavin Morgan

Walking up Market Street I saw this poster in the former FatFace store. It seemed to sum up shopping in Guildford.

Our store has gone but the poster says you can still find Fatface at Farnham, Woking and Godalming. What are they doing right that we are doing wrong? Is it better footfall, cheaper parking or lower business rates?

It would be interesting to know from FatFace why they left?

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test 3 Responses to Letter: Why No Fatface in Guildford?

  1. M Durant Reply

    September 14, 2021 at 11:14 pm

    H&M closed as well a while back on the High Street, but they have an H&M in Woking, so now I have to go there if I need anything from them.

    It could possibly be that the business rates in Guildford are higher.

  2. Fiona Curtis Reply

    September 20, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    A couple of weeks ago I visited a number of towns including Guildford. Having not visited for a while was quite taken aback by the change with many empty shops and overgrown development sites. Guildford is not the only town with this problem but it certainly appeared to have suffered more than other towns I visited which included Godalming, Harrogate, Henley and Lincoln. Henley, which has plenty of independent shops, also has more closed shops than I have ever seen, while although Harrogate and Lincoln were not untouched, it looked more like business as usual.

    I noticed that the Department of Trade statistics office stated that whilse many town centres were struggling, retail parks were generally doing OK. I am guessing that ease of access plays an important part, a problem that Guildford knows all about.

    I don’t envy those who are having to make decisions about the town’s future in these changeable times but I would encourage them to look at towns across the country to see whether any lessons can be learned from those with similar influences.

    • George Potter Reply

      September 21, 2021 at 2:44 pm

      The really big problems here are rent and business rates. Rent is, usually, linked to property value, thus high streets in the expensive south are suffering the effect of high rents, which is then combined with high business rates because business rates are similarly based on notional property value.

      Unfortunately both of these are outside of the control of local government (business rates are set nationally) meaning that more expensive towns are seeing their high streets struggle with much higher vacancy rates than less expensive towns. Hence Godalming does better than Guildford and Harrogate does better than Henley.

      George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham.

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