27th December, 2017…
With Beverley staging the start of the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race in May, and the long-awaited reopening of the historic Beverley Arms Hotel in the town’s Georgian Quarter the following month after a multi-million-pound renovation.
Council chiefs are also predicting the unprecedented demand for retail space will continue after a year which has seen a number of famous names open in the town.
Alan Menzies, director of planning and economic regeneration at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, says the current vacancy rate for commercial properties is the lowest in his 22 years with the authority and says an independent report has put the number of empty premises in the town as low as one per cent of the total.
That situation is in stark contrast to other town and city centres, struggling against both the economic downturn and the pressure of out of town shopping parks.
Respected property agent Chris Mason, of Hull-based Scotts property, says: “Beverley has been able to attract a number of quality brands often associated with vibrant and attractive towns, including the likes of Seasalt, Jo Malone, Hotel Chocolat and Jack Wills.”
This, he says, is in addition to a thriving independent sector and a strong presence in food, drink and leisure.
It seems it’s a case of “build it and they will come” for visitor numbers to Beverley show no signs of slowing down. “With so much going on throughout the year we almost wish there were more than 12 months, especially when it's sunny! With our top, tried and tested annual festivals such as Beverley Folk Festival, Food Festivals, Literature and Christmas Festivals we know a fabulous time is ahead of us,” said a spokesman for regional tourism body Visit Hull and East Yorkshire.
Certainly, there’s no shortage of visitors booking coach trips to the town and for the third year running, Beverley has been shortlisted in the Coach Friendly Destination category at the British Coach Tourism Awards. The town narrowly missed out on the accolade in 2016 and 2017 but is back in contention for 2018 after winning judges over with a submission that highlighted the town itself, the increase in coach numbers, the success of the Beverley Festival of Christmas and the coaches that came to the event as well as positive testimonials, publicity and social media.
Beverley can boast famous names and sought-after brands not seen in any other High Street in East Yorkshire, including Carluccio’s Italian Restaurant, the classic British clothing store Barbour, Lakeland Kitchenware and Lakeland Leather, Joules Fashions and Steamer Trading Bookshop.
During the past 12 months they have been joined by many more and our top six exclusive Beverley openings were :
1. Jack Wills - Trendy clothing store, with some 70 outlets across the UK, including York and Leeds, unveiled its latest branch in a prime location in Saturday Market in November. Jack Wills was founded by Peter Williams and Robert Shaw in 1999 and sells both men’s and women’s clothing. its products are branded with the signature logo of a pheasant with a top hat and walking stick. The main colours the brand is recognised for are navy and pink.
2. Seasalt - The Cornish-based company, with 40 shops across the UK, brought maritime fashions to Beverley when they opened their Toll Gavel store back in March.
3. Mint Velvet - Chic women's fashion brand with an ethos of “relaxed glamour” took over the former Jaeger fashion store in Saturday Market in July. The company described itself as “really excited to be opening a new boutique in Beverley’s vibrant market town”.
4. Molly Browns - A glamorous boutique selling posh frocks and women's' wear was opened in Wednesday Market by York-based Molly Browns in the run-up to Christmas. The company, looking to expand, chose Beverley over Harrogate for its latest store.
5. Hotel Chocolat - Sweet success came in the form of this luxury chocolatier opening a prestigious store in Toll Gavel in July.
6. Jo Malone London - The bespoke fragrance house, famous for its exquisite scents, is known for its expensive perfumes, luxury candles, bath products and room scents and opened a boutique in Saturday Market in September.
Bars and restaurants have also been queuing up to add to Beverley’s vibrant day and nighttime social scene, particularly at the Flemingate shopping centre, which has just celebrated its second birthday and mirrors the vibrant town centre scene by being almost fully occupied.
The biggest stir was in July with the opening of the £1 million US-style FirePit Smokehouse and Sports Bar at Flemingate. It proved an instant hit with the town’s biggest TV screen, late night DJs, live music and every televised sporting event you can think of. Nearby, just a month later, came a branch of cult Leeds eaterie Buca di Pizza adding to a host of established names.
Elsewhere, the town’s dining menu has been enhanced with the first Brazilian diner, Chamas, in Wednesday Market, Beverley’s first French restaurant, Fleur de Lis, in North Bar Within, and the first-ever bistro offering a concept of “small plates” dining, the Pig & Whistle, opened by award-winning chef James Allcock in Sow Hull.
It all adds up to the town with everything. “Visitors are never disappointed and we believe we have a great product. Our aim is to increase the numbers of return visits and overnight stays,” said an East Riding Council spokesman.