'There is a loyalty to shopping in Kenilworth' says business leader on discussing future of town centre

Officials have a positive outlook for trading in the town centre and high street areas of Kenilworth for 2020.

Over the last year the town saw several new businesses open up and some others leave the high street and town centre.

Sarah Kershaw, the chair of the Kenilworth Chamber of Trade, stands next to the Kenilworth Clock Tower in Abbey End of town on Warwick Road.

Sarah Kershaw, the chair of the Kenilworth Chamber of Trade, stands next to the Kenilworth Clock Tower in Abbey End of town on Warwick Road.

Some long-time businesses of the high street stayed on but under new ownership. While several others even took to refitting their shopfronts with the start of a new decade.

Sarah Kershaw, the chair of the Kenilworth Chamber of Trade, said: “I think it's really positive. I think there is a loyalty to shopping in Kenilworth. People come from out of town to shop here.

“We haven't got that many empty units, and they haven't been empty that long.”

Only a handful of shopfronts remain empty as the first month of the New Year nearly comes to a close. The town's Poundland located in Warwick Road closed last week. Warrens Bakery located in Talisman Square closed in October 2019.

A refit is underway at the former JDA Wealth finance location in Warwick Road next to the Shakespeare Hospice charity shop in the Abbey End area of the town centre.

Some of the newest businesses in town centre include Top Drawer, The Artibus Yard, Coffee on the Corner, Clock Tower Cafe, Hollow Grind barber shop and the Ale Rooms among others.

The Kenilworth Book shop, which is entering its 50th year of trading in Talisman Square, saw record breaking sales last year. And the Talisman Square car park was also repaved late last year.

Sarah added: "It's got a very good reputation, and very good personal customer service. We've got lots of long-standing businesses here. The ones that have been here a long time have built up relationships with people."

A few of the long-standing retailers include, JA Moore, a family-owned men's clothing store, which has been in the town since 1907.

Sylvesters the Jewellers has traded in the town centre for more than 50 years as it was the first to start trading in its Talisman Square location in 1964.

And another business, the Sunam Indian restaurant located in Abbey End will mark 25 years of business in 2020.

The town centre and high streets areas boast more than a dozen restaurant options ranging from Italian, to Thai, to Mediterranean, to Indian to traditional English pubs.

Nearly a dozen different cafes can be spotted from traditional chain coffee shops to several new local independent ones too.

Sarah also spoke of the town centre's diversification. The town centre offers more more 10 charity shops, more than a dozen salons and barber shops along with three opticians, a couple funeral directors and more than a half dozen estate agents too.

She added: “A symbol of confidence in the high street are the banks. Two of them (six in town centre) have been revamped. It's not all about charity shops and hair salons. We've got florists, travel agents, dry cleaners, fashion boutiques, two book shops and a fruit and 'veg' shop.”

The Kenilworth Town Council has also formed a town centre working party group, which is led by Cllr Michael Coker.

Cllr Coker said: "We've just started this working party. We're investigating what we can do in the short and long-term. We're still at the planning and thinking stage."

The working party is looking at the possibility of re-introducing the Kenilworth StreetPride group, which stopped when the town lost its town centre manager several years ago.

The working party is also looking to determine if there are better positions for planters and A-board signs along the town centre and high street than where they are currently commonly found now.

Cllr Coker added: "The major idea is to make the town more attractive so that we get lots of people into the town. As far as the town centre is concerned we would like it to be clean, attractive and welcoming.

"We're obviously looking for ideas."