7th October 2019

Why retail is still as exciting as ever before: The vibrant retail scene in Chesterfield

Why retail is still as exciting as ever before: The vibrant retail scene in Chesterfield

The current perceptions of British retailing are slightly underwhelming leading to many observers worrying about what is next for our high streets and shopping centres. But there are plenty of retail environments that are thriving and should be considered prime case studies of successful retail environments and many more are engaging with new concepts.


One thriving and exciting example is Chesterfield town centre. Barker Proudlove have been working hard on Vicar Lane in Chesterfield alongside owner Bert Broadhead and his team from Alteris, as well as Polly Barnfield OBE, Maybe*, Chesterfield Council and the onsite team to improve the centre’s retail and leisure offering. Working collaboratively has provided an ability to develop innovative approaches and opportunities for retailers and operators. This work is all part of showcasing the best of Chesterfield, and in turn refining and possibly even redefining the retail offer and the town as a unique destination.


Since the beginning of the year, an initiative focusing on making physical retail space more accessible has been developed. Several units along Steeplegate have been made available on flexible leases and a simple ‘one total property cost’, all-inclusive rental basis. These rents start from £160pw and the white-boxed units are also available to be rented and occupied collaboratively.


This initiative was developed exclusively for the local and regional independents as the need and demand for independent retail across all types of retail environments in the UK continues to be strong. In the past, an inflexible leasing approach to physical space has been a by-product of historical retail property behaviour in the UK, and this undoubtedly has deterred independent retailers who are just starting up.


Across all environments this past approach has been a continuous barrier for some and here in Chesterfield all parties were keen to make physical space more accessible and easier to understand and budget for. This opportunity has been a huge development for the local and regional independent businesses and is proving popular. In short Vicar Lane, Chesterfield is showcasing the success of retail and is truly leading the way with making retail environments unique, contemporary and accessible.


As part of this independent led initiative Rate Cute opened their doors first on the 20th September. Owner Charlotte Bolton has developed the store to be a curation of the finest makers around in the local area. Weekly, the stock changes to give different artists and makers an opportunity to have their products physically available to the shoppers of Chesterfield. Charlotte’s shop is bright, airy and bursting with talent and beautiful makes. The enthusiasm from Charlotte and her lovely shop for local handmade items brings a new wave of excitement to the retail space of Vicar Lane and Chesterfield.


Similarly, Shop Indie opened their doors on the 1st October. Lisa and John already have a successful online platform but highlighted that with Shop Indie, their first physical venture, they wanted to bring back to the high street the experience and excitement of finding new products and makers that are unique to any other town. When speaking to Derbyshire Times, the pair highlighted their enthusiasm for being able to benefit from this opportunity and to expand into a physical space. The quality of shop fit, visual merchandising and passion for independent retail from Shop Indie is second to none.


To see more of the Rate Cute and Shop Indie spaces follow the link to our Instagram.


The response to this scheme has been overwhelming and indicates the success of the fresh take on retail from those involved and more importantly is making use of empty retail space like no other town is. The presence of independent retail is a vital element in current retail environments and Steeplegate is certain to become the independent hub of Chesterfield for all its shoppers.


With other investments such as a media screen and street art to come, Bert and the team are showing how to adapt current infrastructure and utilise the retail potential to meet current retail demands.


Barker Proudlove are over the moon to be an integral part of this project in Chesterfield, and the hard work that all parties are putting in collaboratively is making a huge difference. Being positive about the retail sector, inventive with opportunities and supportive of independents are all crucial elements of adaptation to new demand and the current retail environment. With no doubt Chesterfield is a glowing case study for reinventing retail landscapes like never before.


To find out more about the opportunities available in Chesterfield get in touch via our ‘contact us’ page or through our social media channels!