Cafe Calls Time Amid ‘Coffee Shop Saturation’

By Sam Creed, First Year Journalism Student

Another coffee shop failure has contributed to the growing number of independent shop casualties in the Chester city centre.

49 Watergate, on Watergate Street, has closed after three years of service, with the owners citing a multitude of factors as the reason for the closure.

October 27 marked the final day of trading for 49 Watergate, one of 12 reported closures in the city centre this year.

Matthew Sutton, 49, saw his shop ‘And Albert’ close down in April following 25 years of continued service in the city centre.

Six months on, Mr Sutton said: “There had been a long-term decline in footfall and customers coming into the shop.”

“We had noticed that since about 2012 and that was the first year things became noticeably more difficult for us.”

And Albert was always a prominent figure on the high street for a quarter of a century and Mr Sutton said he ’couldn’t bear’ trying to work with a lack of customers, labelling his former shop’s environment as ‘depressing’.

Mr Sutton referenced a number of factors when quizzed about the reasons for this decline in customers coming to Chester high street.

He said: “Chester can’t compete. It’s got to sell itself in a completely different way.”

He added that Chester council need to ‘change the infrastructure’ and changes required ‘force and money’ behind them to be successfully put into place.

Richard Bolger, owner of Lily Vintage, has been on the high street for 8 years and remarked that his survival is partly due to students from Chester and abroad who ‘fit the target demographic’.

He added: “We do okay, but no-one makes it easy for you.”

“Landlords would rather see a shop go and leave a gap in the market than take a hit on the rent.”

Cheshire West and Chester Council were approached for comment but did not respond.

“Cup of coffee” by josephmurasaki is licensed under CC PDM 1.0 

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