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Cocketts to close after 86 years in High Street

Owner warns other shops will go

ONE of the Bay’s most vociferous supporters is closing his family’s shop in the town – and warns time is running out to prevent other businesses following suit. Dylan Hampshire, who runs Cocketts Mattresses in the High Street, has put the shop up for auction to be converted into flats and will instead trade from a warehouse and online. The business was started in 1928 by Fred Cockett and has made mattresses in the town centre since then. Mr Hampshire, Mr Cockett’s grandson, said:

“At one time customers were locals passing the shop on foot and those phoning from nearby towns but this has all changed now. I have been asked why, being a local advocate fighting for Herne Bay business, are we closing? Quite simply, we lost!”

Mr Hampshire said trade had shifted away from the High Street, firstly to out-of-town shopping and then online, but said the failure of the council and local trade organisations to address the decline was also to blame. He added:

“Herne Bay has only a little time left to address the decline in retail before it is too late — even the charity shops are closing. Most of Cocketts business is either repeat business from interior designers and old customers or from internet enquiries from the entire UK. We will continue to make mattresses but will find a trade unit to do this and not have a shop in the future.”

Action plan

He said the town needed an action plan, including changes to parking, access and charges, and a town council to focus on Herne Bay alone. He said:

“I would like to see an end to charity shop business-rate discounts. Really no shops should pay rates in struggling towns, as my grandfather said happened during the 1930s depression. I’d also like a properly researched parking policy with the purpose of encouraging visitors and shoppers, allowing traffic to go up Mortimer Street in the afternoon to generate stop-and-shop trade; and the branding of Herne Bay and Whitstable as the Antique and Interiors Towns.”

He said there needed to be a shift of focus away from the seafront and “a managed shrinking” of the High Street to concentrate more shops in a smaller area. Mr Hampshire also called for funding for the Herne Bay Independent Retail Group and a major project such as a marina to bring more investment. He added:

“We need a town council to focus on Herne Bay and take the focus away from Canterbury. Do I think any of this will happen? No.”

Herne Bay Times, March 13th 2014

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