‘A sign that the town is coming back to life’ – Hemel Hempstead shopping centre’s successful summer is a beacon of hope

Riverside Shopping Centre manager David Robinson with Alison Lawes, owner of A Real Taste of Cornwall.
Riverside Shopping Centre manager David Robinson with Alison Lawes, owner of A Real Taste of Cornwall.

A town centre mall has maintained and created more than 20 jobs in Hemel Hempstead thanks to new lettings, a store expansion and a leg-up for a town entrepreneur.

Riverside Shopping Centre has undertaken a summer expansion project which has seen fashion brand H&M begin work to double in size and outdoor specialists Millets move into an empty unit.

The newly expanded H&M store is due to open tomorrow, and customers in the queue before 11am will get a wristband offering them 25 per cent discount.

Shoppers will also get the opportunity to win goody bags and will be entertained by an in-store DJ throughout the day.

The Gazette has previously reported how a 24-year-old businesswoman from Adeyfield reopened her own Cornish pasty store when the national chain she worked for went into administration.

Alison Lawes saved the jobs of all of the existing staff at the site from when it was The Cornish Pasty Co, and is now advertising for a new part-time post. She was helped into the business, rebranded as A Real Taste of Cornwall, by Riverside’s owner Aberdeen Asset Management which offered discounted initial rent to get her started.

Alison said: “It is going a lot better than even we expected. All of our regular customers have come back – even the town seems busier than it has been before.

“Hopefully this is a sign of the town coming back to life.”

Aberdeen asset director Simon Andrews said: “We were delighted to be able to support Alison and A Real Taste of Cornwall. We knew the effort that had gone into opening the store so we offered an incentives deal including low initial rent with a turnover top-up.

“We also purchased the fit-out and catering equipment from the liquidators – including the freezers, oven and tables – and have included all of these in the lease.”

Centre manager David Robinson said: “We’re very pleased with the new additions to Hemel Hempstead’s high street. We believe these new lettings will be a great addition to the local economy and community.”