Welwyn Garden City music store to close

A LANDMARK music store is the latest retailer to fall victim to a lack of passing trade in one part of WGC town centre. City Sounds, one of the few remaining occupied units in Wigmores South, is closing down after 10 years of trading. Owner Bill Menzies

A LANDMARK music store is the latest retailer to fall victim to a lack of passing trade in one part of WGC town centre.

City Sounds, one of the few remaining occupied units in Wigmores South, is closing down after 10 years of trading.

Owner Bill Menzies blamed the "massive" rise in business rates and the huge drop in shoppers to the area for his decision to shut.

"I've had a massive rate increase, but I'm surrounded by empty shops that aren't going to be rented," Mr Menzies said.


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"It's time for us to move on; all that's left to say is a massive thank you to all the loyal customers we've had in WGC. We're sorry to be going."

Wigmores South has been virtually deserted by traders ever since Sainsbury's bought a whole block of units in the parade in order to build an enormous, four-storey megastore.

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Some of the more high profile chains, like opticians Dollond and Aitchison, moved round the corner to Howardsgate, but for independent traders like Mr Menzies, who owns his property, the decline in shoppers, as well as the recession and a significant drop in CD sales, has ultimately proved decisive.

Before his store closes on November 6, Mr Menzies fired a parting shot at Welwyn Hatfield Council, saying it was not doing enough to support independent retailers in the town.

"The council supports all the big chain stores," he said. "They hold things like the continental market outside the Howard Centre; they don't bring anything like that round here that might help us.

"I hope the council starts supporting some of the other independent traders in this area before they have to close as well."

A council spokeswoman said: "This year, the increase on the bill was five per cent. However, the Government introduced an initiative which allows businesses to defer paying 60 per cent of that over the next two years. Businesses can also apply to spread their 10 monthly payments in a year across 12 months. Both these options are available to City Sounds."

But Mr Menzies dismissed the initiatives as "delaying the inevitable".

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