Sports Direct joins list of businesses quitting town

Latest business news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

Latest business news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

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The number of empty shops in Sudbury is set to increase in the coming months – with retail giant Sports Direct the latest to quit the town.

The UK’s largest sports goods retailer has confirmed it will close its North Street store in July, adding to the closures of Argos and Poundland.

In Borehamgate, Milpets has closed. The former butchers’ shop and food kiosk Fill The Gap are already vacant.

In Old Market Place, both Johnsons Dry Cleaners and the East Anglian Daily Times offices have been vacated in the last month, with the nearby former post office building remaining empty.

YMCA has now vacated its store on Market Hill, with restaurant and bar chain Loungers planning to open a new venue in the premises by the end of the year.

As reported in the Free Press in February, there are a number of vacant retail premises in North Street, but men’s fashion retailer Black Hanger Clothing has opened.

Sudbury’s new chamber of commerce chairman Robin Bailey said: “Obviously any loss of shops in the town we take seriously, as a lot of towns have lost a lot of their shops. One only has to visit Colchester High Street.

“There is no concern yet. Statistically, Sudbury, compared to other towns, is still doing quite well, but one doesn’t want to get to the point where we do get concerned and it does become difficult to bring shops in.

“We have got to support the shops in our town but we are not alarmed at present.

“Some of the shops are being filled. Whether they are the right things to bring other people into the town only time will tell.”

Mr Bailey said it was important to have a variety of businesses, adding that, although there was nothing wrong with charity shops, he did not want to see a town full of them.

“We are working on different ways to get retailers more involved with the chamber, including new pop-up meetings at more suitable times,” he said.

“Historically, meetings have been at lunchtime, which is not suitable for retail. We are trying to build a network to support retail and to build a stronger group.”