There has been a shock rise in the number of people looking to set up a new business in Chorley.
Since Chorley Council’s town centre grants scheme was launched six months ago, nine grants have been approved generating £114,000 of investment, creating 25 new jobs.
The grants cover shop floor and shop front improvements as well as business rate subsidies.
Coun Alan Cullens, who oversees business support at Chorley Council, said: “One of the council’s priorities has been to help local traders and attract new businesses to the town centre and the grants have been an undoubted success.
“We always tend to see an increase in the number of people wanting to set up their own business in the New Year as people seek a fresh start and we’ve had lots of enquiries since the start of January.”
But the news comes as the future of two of the town’s high street chains are hanging in the balance.
It has been reported that Peacocks has just 10 days’ protection from its creditors to find a new investor or it will go in to administration.
The company, which also owns Bon Marche, has two prominent shops in the town centre – with Peacocks occupying a large unit in Market Walk.
Malcolm Allen, chairman of Chorley Traders’ Alliance, said: “There are very public concerns that a number of large retailers could start closing shops and we believe there are at least five in Chorley that could be affected. Obviously that is a concern for us as independent traders because we want to be able to offer shoppers the best choice to keep them shopping locally.
“The last thing we want is to lose national retailers especially when we have the large Asda development looming at the far end of Market Street. Big names are a draw for our customers and in the past we have seen their empty stores being occupied by more and more charity shops.”
Fears had already been raised that chocolatier Thornton’s could withdraw from the town’s shopping centre as its lease is due to expire in the spring.
Chorley has already lost of menswear chain Burton as well as jewellery chain Azuri.
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