Hinckley and its over inflated market place

Hinckley is going through something of a development boom at the moment with The Crescent taking shape and the new development at the back of Tesco. Never one to judge a book by its cover, I will reserve full judgement until building is completed and the shops are in and working. However, based on what I have read so far I will admit to being a bit pessimistic about its chances of keeping the shoppers in Hinckley.

I, like most, was very excited when the development first got the go ahead, however I do not believe it is going to live up to my hopes and expectations. My main concern is variety, or seeming lack off. To be fair most units have not been leased out but that too me is a concern with the centre almost fully opened.
At the time of writing the only businesses set to go in are Cineworld Cinema, Costa Coffee, Iceland, Poundland, Prezzo Italian restaurant, Sainsbury’s, Simply Gym and TK Maxx.
I imagined it becoming something of a mini Fosse Park or Highcross with big named stores coming in like River Island, Next, Disney Store etc. but it does not seem to have that appeal. Looking at that list of stores I refer again to the variety issue:

Cineworld could be an excellent addition to the town. Having a cinema on our door step will keep people from going to Bermuda Park, Meridian or Leicester. It is something we do not have currently and can be enjoyed by everybody. My concern for them is, there is nothing to go alongside it. Most successful cinemas have a variety of restaurants, bowling, laser quest and other activities in close location so people can make a day, or at least afternoon/evening of it. If a laser quest, bowling or other activity chain was to go in, I think both would work really well.
Costa, to my understanding, are opening their second store in Hinckley. Other than more space to sit this will not really benefit anybody. They are also still in competition with established competitors Coffee Rio and Café Sovrano plus all the local café’s but they may gain additional trade from those staying in the shopping centre.
Iceland are already functioning and were on the site previous. With the wealth of supermarkets in Hinckley I cannot see them doing much more than they did previously, nor do they add a great deal in terms of keeping people in Hinckley.
Poundland on the face of it are a big name store coming in, however we already have 2 stores of this nature in Britannia Centre so their addition does not add anything new to the face of our shopping climate.
Prezzo could do well, especially with the cinema there. With lots of restaurants in Hinckley their central location will help them but again, restaurants is something we have lots of in Hinckley.
Sainsbury’s are in a virtually identical situation to Iceland. They were there before and do not add anything we did not already have At this point it feels only right to give credit to the new Sainsbury’s however. They have clearly thought about the needs of the town and in their new store have added a toy section, technology, homewares and clothing sections which is great news for everybody.
Simply Gym are an interesting addition and I am not sure which way it will go. There are many gyms in Hinckley but not in such a central location and will go into direct competition with the Leisure Centre. Where they are situated in the complex may be key to their success.
TK Maxx is another interesting one. Hinckley does struggle for clothing stores with only Peacocks, Dorothy Perkins and New Look to choose from, however, do they have the pull to stop people going to Fosse Park? My biggest issue personally is Asda is virtually the only place in Hinckley with men’s and children’s clothing, especially since Burtons closed. I did believe this would be a good location for the likes of River Island, Next, Jacamo to maybe cash in. Shopping centres with a good variety of clothing stores generally do very well. Maybe they will jump on board soon?

There are some benefits to the new shopping centre though. One massive bonus is they are offering free Wi-Fi which in this day and age is like gold. In addition having another car park available again will ease what is currently a highly congested town centre.

In addition to these, Poundstretcher and Pets at Home are opening near Tesco. Pets at home I believe could do really well as the pet industry is a constant. We do not have a store like this currently in Hinckley either so will have locals and residents of the surrounding area coming into the town. It is not just a pet store either. My understanding is there is a vets there (Vets 4 Pets) and a grooming parlour (The Groom Room). This could have a positive impact on the other businesses in the town centre. Poundstretcher however I fail to see the benefit? When you consider Poundland is opening in The Crescent, the two pound shops in Britannia Centre and the established shops of similar nature like Wilkinson’s and B&M, what can they offer?

In my opinion to be a success the new development need to attract:

*Clothing stores that cater for men, women and children.
*An activity, like bowling, to run alongside Cineworld.
*Maybe a toy store to keep the children market in the town available.
*Perhaps a tech store i.e. Currys and PC World. With the imminent closure of Co-op this could do really well.
*Perhaps a retailer of things like DVDs? At the moment centrally we only have WH Smith for books, DVD’s etc., plus the market stalls three days a week.

I am a believer in competition, I think businesses thrive off of it, but too much of one thing just damages all concerned. Variety for me is the key. If some stores can come into the town offering something that is either limited in our town or not currently available then more people will happily stay local.

You will never keep everyone happy. Even if we had two of every kind of store people would still venture out for a change in scenery. However, if the variety, quality and value is there, more often than not people will stay and that will only help our local economy and local businesses.

I conclude with fact. This whole blog is based on my opinion so I ran a Facebook and Twitter poll, the question simple. Will the new development improve Hinckley and keep the shoppers in the town?
Of those who voted in the Twitter pole, 54% people agreed with the idea that the new developments will not improve Hinckley.
Some of the feedback I received via different social media forms was:

Question – Will the new developments keep shoppers in Hinckley?

“If I can get what I want in Hinckley. I do shop here and I hope the complexes do keep business in the area”
“I’ll still need to venture out of Hinckley for decent clothes shops unless they get some here”
“It will save us going to Fosse Park every week. Lovely store not as big as Fosse but stil….. Love it – didn’t feel like Hinckley at all at last a decent store – not shop but store”
“not really, it’ll be no worse and no better. though the kids can go to the cinema without us having to drive them somewhere.”
When I asked what people would like there it was River Island and Frankie + Bennys.

Yesterday (5th November) local paper The Hinckley Times asked the same wuestion via Twitter on what brands locals would like. Responses were mixed with mostly clothes lines River Island and Next. There was support for other big brands like M+S, H+M, Zara, Monsoon and Matalan.
Toy store Disney Store also got a few mentions as did food outlets such as Burger King.

There is real potential I feel in Hinckley. I just hope we are not left disappointed.

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