A retail revolution could be on the cards for Hawick High Street as a handful of new businesses prepare to move into the town.
After years of apparent decline, with a host of closures raising concerns over the shopping thoroughfare’s long-term future, it would appear that a corner has been turned.
The former It’s Great Outdoors and Room 7A outlets are set to reopen as Sharpe’s Cafe, a national charity raising funds for veterans of the UK armed forces and emergency services.
The ex-Thoma and Sons convenience store, at 47 High Street, is set for conversion into a newsagent’s and bakery, and the former Yeomans outdoor leisure camping store, at 53 High Street, is about to become a new restaurant.
The good news does not end there, with Ingles jewellery shop, at 57 High Street, in line to enjoy a new life as a provider of surplus army supplies and computer software and hardware and the old Turnbull’s cafe in Oliver Place to reopen in April as a bistro.
That’s an upbeat prospect sure to increase footfall in the town centre and remove the sight of vacant retail units blighting High Street.
On top of that, the town will welcome another shop on Thursday, April 19, when a new Aldi supermarket in Commercial Road opens its doors.
It is thought that more manageable rates for sale and rent of properties have led to the upsurge in interest.
Whatever the factors behind the current influx of retailers, it is a development welcomed by the town’s honorary provost, Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer.
He said: “There are indeed some very strong signs of recovery. It is very clear that recent changes to business rates have created more opportunity and, coupled with strong private investment, they are making Hawick a strong choice for new business.
“I am hopeful that the recently-agreed conservation area regeneration scheme will further help improve the High Street and make our town centre a vibrant part of our community once again. This is really great news for Hawick.”
Fellow Hawick councillor Stuart Marshall echoed those thoughts, adding: “The opening of several new businesses along our High Street must surely be seen as a real confidence boost for the town.
“The recent financial measures that were announced in last week’s council budget will also hopefully help kick-start much-needed support.
“And when you see the level of private investment that is going on in certain areas of the town, then I genuinely feel that Hawick is turning the corner, albeit slowly.
“I, for one, will never apologise for continuing to bang the drum for Hawick in order for it to receive its fair share of the public cash, especially when you hear of regeneration masterplans for Tweedbank and Galashiels.”