The Independent businesses saving our High Street

Watch a report here by ITV News Anglia reporter Matthew Hudson

Close to 1,500 retail outlets have closed across the East of England since January this year. There have been openings too, but the rate is not as high as usual leaving empty stores on our high streets. But there are signs of growth, with independent entrepreneurs stepping in to fill the gaps.

Pure Ely's new branch in the city's High Street Passage Credit: ITV News Anglia

Cheryl Bailey is the proud owner of a new branch of her business, Pure Ely beauty salon. She took the decision to open a second following a quiz night chat with friends during lockdown

Nearly fifteen hundred retail businesses, chains and independents, have closed across the eastern region since the pandemic began. That is the lowest rate in the country. But it still means new jobs are urgently needed.

Government assistance and lower rents have been encouraging others to take the plunge and open up.

Opposite Cheryl's new premises Ely's first sushi bar will be opening soon

Others find a market stall the perfect first rung on the ladder.

The Silver Oak Coffee Rig is a fixture in Ely on Market days. Now those behind the venture have opened a bagel bar just off the market place which is proving popular with shoppers, and it's created six jobs.

It's not just in Ely that you'll find new small businesses. In Northampton for example coffee expert Steve Peel now has his very own premises where he roasts, grinds and sells coffee to enjoy now or brew at home.

And in Norwich Christophe's Crepes is another cafe that has grown out of a successful market van.


  • 6 in Hertfordshire

  • 20 in Bedfordshire

  • 39 in Northamptonshire

  • 39 in Suffolk

  • 45 in Essex -45

  • 62 in Norfolk -62

  • 72 in Cambridgeshire -72

Source: The Local Data Company

There are still more closures than openings around our region at the moment, with a net loss of around 300 since January. But from what we've seen in Ely, it seems lockdown gave some budding entrepreneurs time to plan how to make their dream venture come true.