BUSINESS owners in Rhyl have shared their thoughts on what could improve the town’s economy following a number of store closures in the area.

Since the start of 2023, GAME, Wilko, Iceland, New Look are just some of the brands to have left Rhyl, while earlier in May, wool shop RKM Wools closed after 40 years of business in the town due to “unaffordable” business rates.

Costa Coffee also closed one of its two premises in Rhyl this month, citing trade as its decision to shut on the town’s High Street.


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Shaun Ketley, who took over The Cob and Pen pub on High Street in February 2023, feels businesses in the town desperately need more support from Denbighshire County Council.

Though, Shaun stressed that the pub itself is doing well and not currently in danger of closure, and is now offering holiday lets, available for single nights and full weeks.

Rhyl Journal: Shaun KetleyShaun Ketley (Image: Shaun Ketley)

“It comes down to the council putting the money into all of the wrong places,” he said.

“My business rates shot up by more than double this year.

“Instead of retailers leaving the town centre, they should encourage and help them to stay by lowering there rates and rent; something is better than nothing or the eyesore of empty premises.

“If shops are staying, then that in turn attracts more businesses to come to the town, then more shoppers will return.

“Most of us that either work, own a business, or live in Rhyl love and are proud of our town, but when you have a council that don’t care, what chance do we have?”

Michelle Mellor owns The Lounge Bar in Rhyl and Micky's Professional Catering Company.

Rhyl Journal: Michelle Mellor outside The Lounge Bar. Inset: Inside The Lounge BarMichelle Mellor outside The Lounge Bar. Inset: Inside The Lounge Bar (Image: Newsquest)

She is hopeful that the ongoing Queen’s Market development will prove an “amazing” addition to the town, but the £12.6million has stalled somewhat after being left without an operator.

Increased parking rates across Denbighshire, implemented earlier this year, are also having a detrimental impact on businesses, Michelle added.

Michelle said: “While I appreciate the council has a massive deficit that needs clawing back, the parking charges are having a massive impact on local businesses, especially the small independent ones.

“All locals say that a Primark would be amazing and bring more footfall. Other things that people want are decent clothes shops for children, babies and women alike.

“Also, a decent butchers, fish shop and bakery, but alas they don't have the buying power that the large stores have.

“The (multi-million-pound, council-led) regeneration programme will be amazing if given great thought and executed well. The Queen's Market, also with the right operator and focus, could be amazing, using the model that other councils have used to drive their towns forward.”

Vicky Welsman-Millard runs Blossom & Bloom, a charity aimed at young parents and babies, which has two bases in Rhyl’s White Rose Centre.

Rhyl Journal: The ribbon-cutting of the new Blossom & Bloom development hub in AprilThe ribbon-cutting of the new Blossom & Bloom development hub in April (Image: Alan Duke)

The two units it occupies, she said, are sustainable due to charity business rate discounts, though she said costs are still escalating all the while.

“Small businesses, from April 2024, are now having to fund 60 per cent of their business rates liability, along with their rent and utility costs, before making a profit,” Vicky said.

“Last year, this was 20 per cent. A retail space with a £10,000-a-year liability has an increased business rates bill of £4,000 a year, on top of bills and rent.

“This makes self-employment within the retail sector non-sustainable for the majority of small businesses and, sadly, closure is inevitable for many.

“This is also proving challenging for medium- and large-size businesses, too, resulting in shock closures of stores in the town which built our reputation as a seaside resort. 

“As a Rhyl girl, entrepreneur, and also a charity founder, this is so frustrating and sad to see. We need to support entrepreneurship in Rhyl specifically and as a ‘now’ priority.”

Vicky suggested that an influx of cafes, restaurants, bars, play spaces, and family-friendly hubs would greatly benefit Rhyl, as well as further investment along the town’s seafront.

With this, she believes, Rhyl would also see additional investment from “retail giants”.

She added: “We need the road through our High Street back, so that people can pop into the shops, and also free parking.

“Name a successful, thriving town where you can’t drive through the High Street and access 60 minutes’ free parking - this isn’t rocket science.”

Rhyl Journal: High Street, RhylHigh Street, Rhyl (Image: GoogleMaps)

In March, Rhyl was awarded an additional £20 million as part of the “Levelling Up” agenda.

This provides the town with £20m of endowment-style funding to invest across 10 years, empowering a plan for the long-term, not just for the end of the financial year.

Before Christmas, Denbighshire County Council was awarded £20m in the previous round of the Levelling Up Fund, with nearly £13m of that sum committed to regenerating Rhyl.

Earlier last year, the council also received £26m through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Gareth Davies, MS for Vale of Clwyd, said: “Recent closures have been disheartening and it would be fantastic to see more independent fashion retailers, bars and cafés, in addition to more traditional traders like butchers, bakers, and florists.

“But more work needs to be done to make Rhyl attractive to these businesses. The UK Government’s Levelling Up funding is a great start, but there are no easy solutions when it comes to regenerating Rhyl’s High Street, and there are many factors at play.

“A decline in tourism and the rise of online retailers have undoubtedly served a blow to the High Street, but some towns have fared better than Rhyl, and we need to look at why that is the case.

“Cracking down on antisocial behaviour and crime, along with improving the mix of uses in Rhyl town centre and introducing green spaces will bring footfall, life, and vitality back.

“In the short term, however, it’s imperative that Welsh Government scraps the tourism tax which will deter visitors, and thus shoppers, to Rhyl.

“Welsh Government must also increase business rates relief to the 70 pr cent that is offered to businesses in England, giving them the leg-up they need to stay afloat and encouraging potential entrepreneurs to occupy the numerous vacant retail units around Rhyl.”

Rhyl Journal: RKM Wools shut in Rhyl in MayRKM Wools shut in Rhyl in May (Image: GoogleMaps)

James Davies, MP for Vale of Clwyd before Parliament was dissolved on May 30 prior to the UK general election in July, added: “Rhyl town centre faces very different challenges as well as opportunities, when compared to some decades ago. The days of large national retail chains are dwindling.

“I would like to see a focus on cleanliness, and other measures to improve the physical appearance of the town centre.  However, my personal view is that this alone is not enough. 

“In order for Rhyl to thrive in the future, it needs to look at what succeeds elsewhere. 

“This means making it an appealing place for independent businesses to invest, including those in the leisure sector.

“The excessive size of some units and the Welsh Government business rates levied are a problem, but I believe that one key issue holding Rhyl back at present is the fact that, compared to its competition, it is too difficult to access by car. 

“Pedestrianisation may have been the right choice 40 years ago but the reintroduction of an attractive traditional street layout, with on-street parking, could begin to make a big difference. 

“Ample free parking in the wider town centre area would also be very helpful.

“The police and council have a role to play in adopting a stricter approach towards antisocial behaviour. This can be intimidating to shoppers and visitors, and this is something I raised with the chief constable only very recently. 

“They have adopted a strict stance through their ongoing 'Clear, Hold, Build' strategy.”

Denbighshire County Council and Welsh Government were also approached for comment.