The pandemic has hit non-essential retail “particularly hard”, the director of High Wycombe’s Eden Shopping Centre has said amid a string of shop closures – but there are big plans to improve its offering.

The Topshop and Topman unit in the shopping centre is the latest to be abandoned as Arcadia Group collapses with a reported £750 million debt.

That closure follows the shutdown of Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Smiggle and Yours Clothing, leaving many shop units in the centre empty.

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But Andrew Norton, Eden Shopping Centre director, has told the Bucks Free Press that despite the challenges facing retail at the moment, there are plans afoot for those shop units to be replaced.

And they will soon be announcing two “international food and beverage brands” planning to open up in White Hart Street.

Bucks Free Press:

Mr Norton said: “It is well documented that the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the ‘non-essential’ retail industry particularly hard, especially with the second lockdown coming, as it did, ahead of the Christmas period.

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“Trade restrictions have forced some retailers into administration, and this has a knock-on effect throughout the industry. Shopping centre owners nationally have been working hard to ensure that consumers still have a vibrant facility for consumers to enjoy once lockdown restrictions are lifted; and the Eden Centre has performed better than most.

“With shoppers keen to avoid large metropolitan centres and enclosed retail environments, Eden’s partially open offer and excellent travel connections have remained attractive to retailers and restaurants.

“Our efforts to improve the food and beverage offer in White Hart Street are beginning to bear fruit despite the challenges. The UK’s original burger restaurant, Wimpy opened last year and we’ll soon be able to announce two more international food and beverage brands in this location.

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“The Arcadia Group’s financial difficulties have been well documented, and we have worked with the company over the last year to accommodate their needs. They have now vacated the centre and I’m pleased to say that we are in advanced negotiations with a new occupier which we hope to be able to announce soon.

“Yours Clothing and Smiggle have also vacated the centre and we’re pleased to say that we have strong interest in both of these units too.”

There have also been some new businesses moving into the shopping centre recently – including bubble tea café Mooboo opposite Zara, European bar and restaurant Cinquieme near the cinema and Sushi at the Attic and Memorabilia Framers on Union Parade next to The Body Shop.