Leyland businesses and shoppers fears for town centre after Boots, Lidl and Bodycare close stores

Shoppers say they fear for the future of the town after a string of recent shop closures.
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Concerns were raised about Leyland town centre after Bodycare confirmed it would follow Boots and Lidl in quitting the town this week.

Boots has already closed its doors while Bodycare - trading as Graham's - announced it would be shutting next week (Wednesday, February 14). The two beauty shops in Hough Lane have closed just weeks before Lidl shuts its supermarket on Churchill Way retail park at the end of the month (February 29).

Leyland has lost Boots, Bodycare and Leyland already in 2024Leyland has lost Boots, Bodycare and Leyland already in 2024
Leyland has lost Boots, Bodycare and Leyland already in 2024
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Last year the retail park also lost Poundstretcher, which leaves just McDonald's, B & M and Dominoes trading on the retail park.

None of the retailers have plans to open new stores in Leyland, as shoppers worry about other big brands following suit in the months to come.

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Speaking to the Post, a staff member said: "No, it's not true. We're not closing. I don't know how that got started, but we're staying open."

Some Leyland residents fear the town's centre is on a downward spiral - just as work gets under way on its £38million refurbishmentSome Leyland residents fear the town's centre is on a downward spiral - just as work gets under way on its £38million refurbishment
Some Leyland residents fear the town's centre is on a downward spiral - just as work gets under way on its £38million refurbishment

It will come as a relief to Leyland shoppers who fear the centre is on a downward spiral - just as work gets under way on a £38million refurbishment of the town centre.

The Leyland Town Deal will see £25 million in funding from Government and £13 million from South Ribble Borough Council used to transform the high street.

The cash is being used to build new residential developments in the town centre, as well as a new public square and commercial developments - including improvements to Leyland Market.

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The investment will also help deliver another key project - BASE2 - a business hub for skills, events and workspaces.

But shoppers and local traders will be dealt another blow when the Market closes for 12 months to allow the refurbishment to take place.

Around 20 traders will be forced to leave their Market stalls, but South Ribble Borough Council say efforts are under way to relocate them elsewhere in the town.

“We’re now working closely with our market traders to consider options and to work with them and get their ideas and suggestions on a way forward," said Councillor Paul Foster, Leader of South Ribble Borough Council. “Solutions are being considered which include alternative trading locations or financial compensation options," added the Council leader.

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Consultation with all Market traders will take place until the end of February 2024 at which point a decision will be made on the way forward.

Artist impressions of what the new Leyland Market will look like once completedArtist impressions of what the new Leyland Market will look like once completed
Artist impressions of what the new Leyland Market will look like once completed

"It's just impossible to survive"

It's not just the big-name brands who are finding it difficult to trade in the South Ribble town.

A number of independent businesses have also been forced to close, with their owners saying it is becoming "impossible to survive".

In January, town centre coffee shop The Hideout closed after its owner said escalating costs made it "impossible to survive".

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Confirming the closure on Facebook, the cafe said: "It is with great regret and sadness that we must announce the permanent closure of The Hideout Leyland.

"It has been the hardest decision we have ever had to make yet with the continuing growing costs it has made it impossible to survive.

Last week, gift shop Bathroom Delights/Charisma Crystals in Hough Lane also ceased trading after just 15 months.

The owner of the shop, which sold scented bath fizzers, wax melts, crystals and incense, said the decision to close was made with a "heavy heart and a lot of trying".

The owners of The Sweet Side confectionery and ice cream shop in Leyland Lane say the shop will be forced to close if business doesn't improve in the next few weeksThe owners of The Sweet Side confectionery and ice cream shop in Leyland Lane say the shop will be forced to close if business doesn't improve in the next few weeks
The owners of The Sweet Side confectionery and ice cream shop in Leyland Lane say the shop will be forced to close if business doesn't improve in the next few weeks

"Use us or lose us", says shop owner

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And this week, local sweet shop The Sweet Side warned customers to "use them or lose them", saying its shop in Leyland Lane was struggling to survive.

The family-owned sweet shop has carved out a nice for itself in the town, selling seaside-style fresh doughnuts, candyfloss, luxury ice-cream, milkshakes and novelty sweets.

In a post on its Facebook page on Wednesday, owner Rachel Biggar warned that if trade doesn't improve in the next few weeks she will be forced to join others in shutting up shop.

She said: "Time for a completely honest post....so we have come to the realisation that the future of The Sweet Side doesn't look good.

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"The shop just isn't getting the support it needs to be able to stay open. I know it's the beginning of the year and hard for everyone but after seeing posts about all the little shops on Hough Lane closing, I fully understand why.

"Small business need you!!! We are going to ride out the next few weeks but if there is no change we will have no option but to close for good.

"I really hope it doesn't come to that, but I hope you all understand."

"Too many supermarkets?"

Residents have been sharing their concerns over the recent shop closures this week.

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Some have suggested that the town has too many supermarkets - making it difficult for smaller stores in the town centre to compete.

Leyland boasts a Tesco superstore, Morrisons, Aldi, Asda and a number of Tesco Expresses, as well as a Sainsbury's superstore nearby in Bamber Bridge.

Local resident Dave White said the superstores and internet shopping have taken their toll on the town centre.

He said: "Notwithstanding the threat from internet shopping, the Council are burying their heads in the sand.

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"There are too many supermarkets in the square mile of Leyland and it was obvious that, even with the ridiculous increase in housing, something had to give.

"The high street will have very little to attract shoppers and the apparent lack of a well-thought-out plan to relocate the Market during the redevelopment will hasten the process of turning the town centre into a ghost town."

Or too many barbers, takeaways and charity shops?

"It’s the same the whole country over," said former resident Andrew Wright. "High streets are full of mobile phone repair shops, barbers and charity shops. Nothing much left to entice shoppers to the town centre."