Published: 18:38, 14 November 2020
| Updated: 18:40, 14 November 2020
While coronavirus has wreaked havoc across the retail sector, the pandemic has not tarnished the appeal of Canterbury as the ideal location to set up shop.
Because a number of businesses have their sights set on opening up in the city, from international chains to lesser-known independents.
Trading bosses say the proposals are “very encouraging” and further prove that despite the high street’s immense economic struggles, the of level of interest in Canterbury remains strong.
Big-name firm German Doner Kebab, which has 46 branches across the UK, is planning on launching in the soon-to-be-vacant Game store on the fringes of Whitefriars.
Permission to turn the high street unit behind the clocktower into a food and drink store was secured two months ago.
Now, fresh applications to install an extractor unit and new illuminated signs have been lodged with the city council.
GDK, which opened its first restaurant in Berlin in 1989 and has since expanded across the world, last month welcomed hungry punters to a new store in Maidstone.
It prides itself on offering “game-changing” kebabs made using premium, lean meats and fresh local vegetables. Upon opening a Canterbury store, it will likely work with Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats to offer deliveries for city residents.
Over the street at the former Beaverbrooks jewellers, a new tenant is aiming to make half of the prime unit its home.
Bubbles Ci-Tea - a UK chain specialising in making Taiwanese-style tea - is planning on taking up residence at the empty site opposite Fenwick.
The seven-year-old business, which currently manages 18 outlets, makes bubble tea - a hand-shaken combination of fruit or milk with Britain’s favourite hot drink, plus other toppings such as jelly.
Bosses plan to have the store open from 11am each day.
Proposals to make changes to the old Beaverbrooks shopfront are currently lodged with the council’s planning department.
Chief executive of the Canterbury Business Improvement District (Bid), Lisa Carlson, says the business interest in the city is a big positive.
“It is always positive to see new investment in Canterbury, and it’s no surprise to see more new businesses open given the consistent level of interest we have seen in the city,” she said.
“It is very encouraging to see empty spaces being snapped up by both independents and big name brands.
“Just recently, we welcomed Skechers to Whitefriars, as well as two independent shops showcasing local artists and makers - Rock Paper Scissors, and Platform - and a new vintage clothing shop on Burgate, called Karma. We and all of the Bid members work tirelessly to make Canterbury a consistently attractive and positive place to work and visit; we’re glad that this hard work is paying off even during very tough times.”
Outside the city centre, a bid to open a new Iceland supermarket inside The Range superstore is pressing ahead.
The national chain, which has an existing store just a hundred years away over the opposite side of Sturry Road as well as a branch in Wincheap, is set to soon open next year at the large City Retail Park unit.
An in-store Iceland cafe is due to launch, along with a number of aisles offering a selection of frozen, chilled and tinned goods.
Both Iceland and The Range teamed up two years ago to form a “strategic alliance”, with the supermarket chain since cropping up in dozens of new in-store locations. As part of the plans, The Range would expand into the vacant former Harveys store next door.
Proposals to install branding on the Vauxhall Road store will soon be decided upon.