City 'in decline' says jeweller swamped by second-hand shops
A Plymouth jeweller has closed one of his stores after 38 years, saying that the city's retail centre is in terminal decline.
The Cornwall Street branch was the first that John Baldwin opened but, last month, the branch closed its doors for the last time.
Mr Baldwin has two other stores – one in Tavistock and one in Plymouth's New George Street – that he says continue to perform well but he said that the West End store had been affected by reduced footfall.
Mr Baldwin blames a range of factors for his decision including the decline of the city's West End following the opening of the Drake Circus shopping centre; an increase in online sales and an unwillingness on the part of landlords to negotiate on rents as sales have fallen.
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"It's so sad," he said. "Plymouth was one of the last big cities to get a shopping mall and by the time it came everyone else had stolen a march.
"I think that the way they planned it (Drake Circus) has not been good and the centre of Plymouth has suffered. I have also got a shop in Tavistock and that's somewhere that works because it gives people a shopping experience. Plymouth has not done that, it has allowed the whole of the bottom of Cornwall Street to become full of second-hand shops. You can draw a line between one end of Plymouth and the other. I think it's been a victim of bad planning."
Since the Drake Circus shopping centre opened in 2006, the Plymouth City Centre Company has launched several initiatives aimed at supporting the city's West End, including re-establishing on-street parking in an area that was previously pedestrianised and holding events aimed at drawing shoppers into the area.
Clint Jones, Plymouth city centre manager, said: "The West End of Plymouth is, and has always been, a core focus of the City Centre Company. The BID exists to support and deliver for all businesses in the city centre, whether they be multiples or independent, but it is the smaller retailers, independent shops and specialists which define our high street and make it unique.
"It is a shame when any business closes and I am sorry to see John Baldwin leave Cornwall Street. Over the next few months Plymouth City Centre Company will be working closely with the West End retailers to better promote the wide and varied offer we have in our city."