OWNERS of two long-established independent shops which have closed have told Chester officials to ‘get a grip’.
A lack of direction for the city is blamed for the closure of Cochranes menswear and Clays lingerie, which between them have almost 190 years of Chester trading.
The owners say parking problems, roadworks, a lack of vision and rents in excess of £90,000 a year played a part in their downfall.
Michael Hall, managing director of Cochranes at The Mall entrance, said: “I estimate there are 50 shops empty or soon to be closing. That’s scandalous and someone needs to get a grip. I do blame the council – they even had buses running from the town hall to Cheshire Oaks when it first opened.
“Tell us what your vision is. If there is one, it’s a secret. The building over there [the Northgate development] is not going to be it.
“The last thing Chester needs is the Northgate development. If you’ve got empty shops why do you need any more?”
The Northgate development would have 60 retail units, with national chain stores such as House of Fraser as the flagships.
Beverley Wynn, who owns award-winning Clays, will continue trading from her Mold shop but must make all nine Chester staff redundant next month.
She said: “They need to look more at what they have already got. Are they only interested in the big hotshots? It’s an historic town – why does it need to be jazzed up and lose its character?
“In future Chester is going to be same as every other mall in the country. If the precinct had all its character and original shops, where would you rather go?”
A spokesman for The Mall declined to comment.
The closures follow the Arts and Crafts Studio, which shut before Christmas after 80 years.