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Stowmarket: Call for retail giants to give economic boost as town gets another charity shop

PUBLISHED: 15:19 04 February 2014 | UPDATED: 15:19 04 February 2014

Stowmarket's Ipswich Street

Stowmarket's Ipswich Street

A boss of a group tasked with increasing the number of shoppers coming to a Suffolk town has called for more retail companies to invest after a charity confirmed it would be opening a new shop.

YMCA England will be launching a shop in Stowmarket in a matter of weeks bringing with it two paid positions and volunteer roles.

Sharon Brown, town centre manager for the Stowmarket Town Centre Partnership, said residents had expressed concern over the news.

“Members of the public have rang me to express disappointment that it’s another charity shop but it’s
difficult to make people understand that it is the landlord who chooses their tenants,” she said.

“It is one less empty shop which is positive but clearly we’d like to see more retail business in the town.”

She said there was a need for new fashion shops to add to the current range of clothing outlets.

Paul Freethy, regional manager for YMCA England, said: “I think it’s an economic factor – charity shops are a growth market; some big towns and cities have 20 to 35 shops and it’s very popular with customers in hard economic times.

“We sell a range of furniture and there is probably only us and the British Heart Foundation who do it very seriously; it’s very popular. The shop in Bury St Edmunds is
very good for us, we do well in the area.”

The shop, which is likely to open seven days a week, will trade where the former Stead and Simpsons shoe business operated from in Ipswich Street.

Mrs Brown said residents want a major retail name to come to the town such as a Marks and Spencer store. But she had doubts the current shop spaces would be big enough to suit a national player.

A national card-chain business is understood to be interested in opening a shop in town but has yet to make its plans public.

Mr Freethy said Stowmarket had not been a town which YMCA bosses had “actively” looked at and were approached by the property’s landlord about the proposition.

The sandwich takeaway chain Subway opened up a shop in Ipswich Street earlier this month. The shop had sat empty since 2012.

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