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New shops give a boost to towns

PUBLISHED: 10:04 25 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:14 12 July 2010

The Samphire Food shop opens in Wymondham with husband and wife team Jeff and Karen Nethercott.

The Samphire Food shop opens in Wymondham with husband and wife team Jeff and Karen Nethercott.

Two Norfolk market towns have received an independent retail boost with the opening of new high street shops.

A Samphire locally produced food shop opened for business in Market Street, Wymondham, yesterday, following the success of the company's first store at Blicking Hall.

Two Norfolk market towns have received an independent retail boost with the opening of new high street shops.

A Samphire locally produced food shop opened for business in Market Street, Wymondham, yesterday, following the success of the company's first store at Blicking Hall.

And a home-brewing supply shop called 'You Can Brew It' is set to open in St Nicholas Street, Diss, today.

Both companies said that they were well placed to weather the credit crunch thanks to their choice of products, although their approaches were entirely different.

Karen Nethercott, owner of Samphire, said: “I think some people are interested in understanding where their food comes from. They get the full story from us, and that's quite tricky to find elsewhere.

“I was concerned when everything started to go a bit funny at the end of last year, because our stuff isn't cheap, but our sales went up.”

While demand for premium food produce has remained high during the recession, You Can Brew It is relying on the fact that brewing beer and wine at home can save customers money.

Co-owner Rebecca Sutton, 21, said: “There isn't really much in Norfolk on the home brew side. For the average kit it works out at about 50p per pint. With the wine it works out about £1 a bottle.”

“The thought of home-brew is that it will taste awful, but it really doesn't. It's a money saver,” she said.

The new stores both buck the trend over the last year for small businesses to disappear amid growing debt and poor cashflow.

Diss has seen a number of national and independent stores leave over the last year including Amity's Florist, Woolworths, Subway, Thresher and Footloose 'n' Funnybones, while Wymondham has lost Threshers, florist The Yard and Woolworths.

Roger Turner, head of rural economies at the Commission for Rural Communities, said: “It is encouraging that these new businesses are starting up in previously vacant retail premises.”

“Market towns have a key role in helping lift the economy out of recession. They have great potential, not only as traditional service centres, but also as centres for tourism and new business and the hub for local products and services and their marketing and distribution,” he said.

A new Costa Coffee franchise also opens in Mere Street, Diss, today.

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