A NEW year rallying cry has been issued to support independent traders who are flocking to Stroud.

In recent weeks the town has seen several changes in retail, which business leaders say indicates the area is booming.

This week it was revealed that an upmarket women’s clothing shop is opening soon while more businesses are springing up in other outlets.

Also this week it was announced that although popular clothing store Brilliant Disguise is closing, a new business is to open in the unit straight away.

The former El Gato’s Cat Cafe has also reopened as a barbers while the Silver Rooms Cafe has sprung up in the former Black Book Cafe in Nelson Street.

In addition, Velo Bakery and Pizzeria now has a new base at JRool Bar and Kitchen after joining forces with the bistro.

Now, traders are urging shoppers to support these businesses.

David Ireland, owner of vintage clothing store Time After Time, said: “Independent shops are vital, they give the town so much character.

"We had a really good year last year and I think what you have to do is up the game with customer service and make it accessible for people and bring in the best quality you possibly can."

Anna Smith, of high street home goods store Haberdashery Twist, said: “Independent shops are what keeps communities alive, it's local knowledge, local people, and it's everything good about localism."

Next month sees the launch of the Stroud Fiver Fest, which supports independent stores.

Tony Davey, chairman of Stroud District Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said: “Vibrant towns need a mix of both national retailers and a strong base of independents to differentiate them and provide for the diverse needs of the community.

"The same chain stores adorning every larger town means these larger towns lose their uniqueness and identity.

"The strong presence of independent businesses is what makes Stroud so gloriously different in that respect."

He added: “We will be raising awareness during Fiver Fest of how spending money in local businesses strengthens the local economy and the community.

"Seeing the likes of our favourite shops close is always saddening, under whatever circumstances this should occur.

"We are starting to see new retailers lined up for the Five Valleys shopping centre, new and respected names being drawn to Stroud such as Miles Morgan Travel, and more openings across town anticipated during Spring."

Mayor Kevin Cranston added: “Part of the attraction of Stroud is its quirky, individualistic character, which is reflected in many of its independent shops.”

Andrew Watton of Hawkins Watton, Commercial Estate Agents in Stroud said Stroud's reputation as a shopping centre with a wide range of independent retailers tends to be the main attraction for others who want to open up in the town, and he revealed that new businesses should be seen shortly in King Street, High Street, Union Street and London Road.

He added: "At present we have a number of new retailers vying to open in the centre.

"They are attracted by shops of the right size and competitive rents and discussions are also ongoing for new stores in Nelson Street, Russell Street and Threadneedle Street.”

The women’s clothing store which is coming to Stroud is fashion boutique Sub Couture.

Owned by husband and wife Derek and Louise Aiken, it is one of Notting Hill’s best-known independent fashion boutiques.

Their second store is due to open in the Five Valleys Shopping Centre in March.

Ms Aiken said: “We are really excited to have the opportunity to launch this new chapter here in Stroud, it’s a fantastic town and we know our customers are here.”

Meanwhile, Brilliant Disguise in the High Street is due to shut on Saturday, January 25, but a new shop will open there soon.

Owners Simon Powell and Jane Mahoney said: “We would like to thank everyone who has supported us during the last 13 years.

“We have worked hard to provide the best clothing and footwear possible but now it is time for us to start new chapters in our lives.

“Kayleigh Jordison, who has worked with us in both the Shoebox and Brilliant Disguise, is opening a shop right here in mid-March.

“It will stock the best of the current ranges plus new twists.

“We feel this is really good for Stroud and we hope everyone will support Kayleigh.”

Also this week it was announced that the former bistro at No 23 Nelson Street is being made available as a pop-up for young chefs. Contact Alex Jamieson on Facebook for more information.