High Wycombe town centre is starting to ‘bounce back’ with retailers bucking the national trends.
Last week High Wycombe took centre stage as a BBC regional news team paid a visit to the town following the news that the UK was officially in recession.
The resulting impact of COVID-19 over the last few months has been devastating for businesses of all sizes across the UK. Whilst High Wycombe itself has struggled with its fair share of hardships such as closed restaurants, retailers and low footfall to shops, the town is now increasingly proving that the future is not all doom and gloom.
Meeting with Chief Executive of HWBidCo (the team behind the management of High Wycombe town centre), Melanie Williams, the BBC learnt that the future looks bright for the town. Melanie said: ‘There’s no denying it’s been a difficult few months for so many of our local businesses, but it’s encouraging that, as a community, High Wycombe is really pulling together to get through this uncertain period.
Throughout lockdown we’ve worked closely with many of our independent retailers to develop a robust ‘recovery plan’ and have witnessed fantastic examples of localised adaptability, with companies pivoting their offer quickly and attracting new audiences. Whilst we remain cautiously optimistic, we can confidently say that the recovery so far has been better than expected.‘
Local business owner, Kwong Ling, from Noodle Nation High Wycombe said: ‘As lockdown has been relaxed and hospitality begins to open, we are greatly appreciative of the support being offered by the Government and High Wycombe BidCo.
It has meant we’ve been able to keep our business going, care for our team and plan for the future. We are seeing consumer confidence grow more each day and trade increase steadily, which gives us encouragement that our business, and the town centre as a whole, will bounce back positively.
Having recently celebrated 20yrs in High Wycombe we’re pleased to be able to retain our place in a town we’re passionate about.‘
Previously around 11% of Wycombe’s employed residents commuted to London on a daily basis, however the new ‘work from home’ trend has encouraged a growth in local economy spending and even spawned innovative business opportunities with new co-working space due to open in the new year.
Located just outside the M25, High Wycombe’s location means there is also the potential to attract companies wishing to move out of London and set up ‘satellite’ offices.
With the recent promotion of High Wycombe’s famed footballing heroes ‘Wycombe Wanderers’ into the Championship, there is a new spotlight shining on the town.
Melanie also said that High Wycombe’s restaurants have been thriving in recent weeks too: ‘Not only have we seen town centre restaurants re-open and unfurlough all staff, some, including the LUNCH café in the high street, have even recruited more employees. The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme has seen a huge uplift for many of our restaurants and we’re pleased to say two new venues have also recently opened – The Botanic Bar in Paul’s Row and Al-Barack in Frogmoor.
Now is a great time for High Wycombe, and we’re excited for the future. It’s been a tough few months for everyone but the town centre, and in particular our independent retailers, restaurants and businesses, are ready to embrace the ‘new normal’ – shop local, support our independents and help High Wycombe become a shining example of COVID recovery.‘
Buckinghamshire Council have also supported the regional economy, not only through this challenging period but also looking ahead to its growth going forward. Steve Bowles, the Town Centre Representative on the Bucks Council Cabinet said: ‘As a council we have been proactively working in collaboration with many businesses locally, not only to help bolster company survival, but also repurpose key town centre sites, driving projects forward for the future benefit of the town.
The facilitation of hundreds of recovery grants, and financial support for local small and independent businesses, has meant we’ve directly influenced some very positive ‘good news’ stories from a number of organisations, and are confident that High Wycombe is set to continue on this path of recovery.‘
*Source of article : Press release from HWBIDCo.