Concern as big names stay away

IPSWICH is failing to attract a number of big name retailers because the town's “demographic profile” doesn't fit the bill, a leading developer has revealed.

IPSWICH is failing to attract a number of big name retailers because the town's “demographic profile” doesn't fit the bill, a leading developer has revealed.

Iain Reid, a director at Citygate Developments, which is working to revamp the Great White Horse in Tavern Street, said Ipswich is playing “catch up” as far as shopping goes with a number of towns in the region being a more attractive option for big retailers.

Despite big name stores such as Debenhams, Marks and Spencer and the recent arrival of fashion chain H&M, Ipswich lacks a number of prominent high street shops.

Department stores John Lewis and House of Fraser have no presence in the town and shoppers have to travel a fair way from Ipswich for fashion chains such as Zara, French Connection and Mango, to name a few.

Ironically, Mr Reid told the Evening Star that Ipswich features on many “expansion lists” for top retailers but is often pipped by towns or cities with more affluent populations or larger catchment areas.

He said: “Rents in Cambridge are £300 per square foot while rents in Ipswich are half that but a lot of retailers are queuing up to go to Cambridge but are holding back from Ipswich.

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“That shows you something. It is about spending power. Having a big, affluent catchment is where it's at. At the end of the day, retailers want to sell goods and they go to towns where they can sell more goods.”

Mr Reid said despite the current reluctance of high street favourites to commit to the town there is light at the end of the tunnel for Ipswich.

He said: “When the Mint Quarter comes in, if it happens, then what you are doing is expanding the size of your catchment because people will come from further away because you have a greater variety of shops.

“It would undoubtedly entice big name brands here. Ipswich is having to play catch up a bit at the moment. If it gets the Mint Quarter that will be a big plus.”

Despite ongoing delays developers of the Mint Quarter scheme, a proposed £230million shopping centre on the area between Tacket Street and Carr Street, say they are confident planning permission will be submitted by next year.

The scheme will comprise a department store, 50 shops and car parking for around 900 cars.

Back in May The Evening Star revealed that John Lewis are understood to be in talks with the Shearer Property Group about setting up shop in the development's 40,000 sq ft anchor store.

n>Do you think Ipswich is lagging behind when it comes to shopping? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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