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Why I'm moving off the high street - business owner says she's 'going with the times'

PUBLISHED: 15:10 18 January 2020 | UPDATED: 07:35 19 January 2020

Nicola Sexton, of Nicola Sexton shoes, with daughter Charlie Sexton at the store No 33 Abbeygate Street, which is closing on January 31 Picture: MARIAM GHAEMI

Nicola Sexton, of Nicola Sexton shoes, with daughter Charlie Sexton at the store No 33 Abbeygate Street, which is closing on January 31 Picture: MARIAM GHAEMI

MARIAM GHAEMI

A well-established independent shoe shop is leaving Bury St Edmunds' high street - but this is not a story of a business in decline.

Nicola Sexton said she is closing the shop to focus on her own brand and the wholesale side of the business Picture: MARIAM GHAEMINicola Sexton said she is closing the shop to focus on her own brand and the wholesale side of the business Picture: MARIAM GHAEMI

Nicola Sexton has been a recognisable brand in Abbeygate Street for the past 10 years, but the store will close on January 31.

It would be easy to presume this shoe and clothing boutique was leaving due to rates and rent, but owner Nicola Sexton says that's not the case.

Mrs Sexton, who also designs shoes, said the wholesale side of the business had overtaken the retail side so she now needs to concentrate on her own brand.

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Loyal customers will still be able to buy her products from a brand new website, she will be launching pop-up shops and also appearing at trade events.

Mrs Sexton said: "I am actually really excited. I do feel guilty for my customers, but it's the next stage for us and you have to go with the times.

"Everything is still there. Just not for 33 Abbeygate Street. My lease came up for renewal. I could have negotiated it and I just felt the time for me was to move off the high street.

"It wasn't business-rate related or rent-related. It was just the way my business was moving."

Chica Shoes in Hatter Street traded for the last time on January 18 Picture: MARIAM GHAEMIChica Shoes in Hatter Street traded for the last time on January 18 Picture: MARIAM GHAEMI

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She added: "We had a good seven years, but the last couple the high street has struggled."

She said to survive on the high street "you have really got to do something different and provide something different for sure".

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Abbeygate Street is Bury St Edmunds' main thoroughfare Picture: MARIAM GHAEMIAbbeygate Street is Bury St Edmunds' main thoroughfare Picture: MARIAM GHAEMI

Many retailers in the historic market town are angry at proposals to increase parking charges, which come at a time when the high street is struggling.

Mrs Sexton said car parking was a "major issue" and urged West Suffolk Council to rethink proposed price hikes.

"The council is not helping the town and they need to do all they can to support the high street," she said.

West Suffolk Council has said previously that no decisions have been made on the proposals.

As well as the forthcoming closure of Nicola Sexton, Chica shoes in Hatter Street had its last trading day on Saturday after 25 years in the town. It is understood the owner is retiring due to ill health.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of the Business Improvement District group Ourburystedmunds, said it was "really disappointing" to be losing these two independent shoe shops.

Mrs Sexton said customers needed to redeem credit notes by January 31.

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