WREXHAM is being pitched as the “shopping capital of North Wales” after a string of new stores opened in two months.
Despite the national picture of doom and gloom for the British high street, Wrexham seems to be faring quite well, with new stores opening their doors.
Kevin Critchley, manager of Eagles Meadow, has labelled the town as the premier shopping centre in the region, one which is attracting interest from large national companies.
And town centre manager Isobel Watson agreed the good news was outweighing the bad.
But shoppers on the street are less than convinced.
In May, two new stores, jewellers Mococo and clothes shop Caran d’Ache, opened at Eagles Meadow shortly followed by skate and surfwear shop Animal last month.
Plans for a noodle bar to replace the former Bumbles Cafe in Charles Street were unveiled last week, a new clothes store Blue Inc is due to open on Hope Street in the next few days.
Also, Betfred has applied to Wrexham Council for a gambling licence for the former Burger King store, which has been sitting empty but still under lease to the fast food company for more than five years, on Queen Street.
But news broke on Monday that health food chain Julian Graves, which has a shop on Lord Street, had gone into administration.
Mrs Watson said: “We’re continuing to have movement in the town, which is a good thing and it’s great news about Blue Inc, the interest in the former Burger King store and, of course, the three new stores in Eagles Meadow.
“We need to keep an eye on the national picture for cases like Julian Graves, although such situations are completely out of our hands.”
And over at Eagles Meadow, Mr Critchley is delighted by the continued interest from companies, particularly in the fashion industry, which he believes are helping make the town a desirable place to shop.
He said: “We now have a burgeoning critical mass of fashion specialists in Wrexham which makes us the perfect destination for fashionistas of all ages and underlines our credentials as the shopping capital of North Wales.”
Stuart Bellis, operations manager for Eagles Meadow, added: “All this is absolutely fantastic for the town.
“We’re bringing in new shops that haven’t been in Wrexham before and that’s a great positive.
“There’s another plot under negotiation at the moment which we’re hoping we’ll be able to push the button on in the next few days.
“What’s going on here and the developments in the rest of the town centre is great for the town’s economy and we wish all the new shops the best of luck.”
'I have to get a train for art supplies'
Some shoppers believe more needs to be done in the town centre in terms of greater diversity of shops.
Ann Sayers, 25, an artist from Wrexham, says there is nowhere in Wrexham she can get the supplies she needs now Jotter has closed.
“The only place that sells what I need is Glyndwr University and the shop’s not open there at this time of year,” she said.
“It means I have to pay for a train to Chester just to get what I need.
“We need more diversity in the shops we’ve got in Wrexham.”
Laura Churchill, 17, from Rhos, said: “I’d like to see more independent shops in the town centre.
“I usually just go to Eagles Meadows because it’s got all the chains, but it’d be nice to see some different shops in the rest of town.
But Stuart Jones, 66, from Caergrwle, spoke up for the town and said he would never choose Chester over Wrexham.
“Everything I need is here in Wrexham,” he said.
“It’s great to hear there are a few more shops opening in town and although a Betfred might not be the best choice I’d rather see plots filled than sitting empty.”
That opinion was shared by Ann Andrews, 73, from Coedpoeth, who said: ”I don’t think we need another shop like Betfred but it makes a change from another pound shop.”