'Royal Arcade needs you': Boss urges firms to rent space
- Credit: Archant
The boss of an independent chocolate shop in Norwich's Royal Arcade is urging other businesses to take up empty units.
Angela Ruthven, who runs Artisan Chocolates by Saffire in the arcade, fears people think the rents are too expensive - but with lockdown easing, said they should consider moving in.
Mrs Ruthven, who relocated her business from Taverham Garden Centre last year, said trade was now picking up in the arcade, particularly at weekends.
As a result, she has just launched new packaging for her handmade chocolate bars celebrating Norwich.
The new wrappers depict the city skyline, including the Royal Arcade.
"Whether you are a football supporter or not there is a lot to be proud of about Norwich," she said.
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"Trade is picking up. It's still a little bit slow during the week - I think the older generation are still a bit anxious and cautious - but it's very busy at weekends.
"I think now is the time for people to consider renting in the Royal Arcade. People have this idea that it's very expensive, more so than Castle Quarter. But it's right in the centre and so beautiful."
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The new chocolate bar wrappers come from a design Mrs Ruthven created. The bars have no added ingredients and she also sells a dairy-free cashew alternative.
Mrs Ruthven had always dreamed of opening in the Royal Arcade, which for years was the home of another independent chocolate shop, Digby's.
The Royal Arcade is owned by Legal & General and currently has seven empty units.
It includes a large unit once occupied by Jamie's Italian, which has stood empty since the restaurant closed in February, 2019.
New businesses signed up for the arcade including Artisan Chocolates by Saffire as well as Sonkai jewellers, relocating from the Lanes.
However, as the pandemic took hold, the remaining available units proved difficult to rent as pop-ups were delayed from taking up space because of lockdown.