THE closure of a major chain coffee shop is the latest change on Dorchester’s high street.

Starbucks, which occupied the former post office building on South Street, has closed its doors for the last time.

Shoe shop Stead and Simpson is also set to close due to what the company revealed was ‘poor performance and rising costs’.

Meanwhile there is better news for the street’s JJB Sports store, which is one of 20 of the collapsed retailer’s branches to be bought up by Sports Direct.

Project director for the Dorchester BID Phil Gordon said he was pleased JJB Sports, which is currently hosting a closing down sale, would be resurrected as a sports retail outlet by Sports Direct.

He said: “It’s sad news JJB are going but extremely good news that Sports Direct are coming and certainly there are some real bargains to be had there at the moment.”

Recent months have seen a number of new businesses setting up in South Street, including Crew Clothing Co, Steam Trading Cookshop and Two Kings jewellers and pawnbrokers, while Poundland has replaced Wellchester.

Mr Gordon said he expected the changing face of the high street to continue but the good news for Dorchester was that, unlike some other towns, shops were opening as well as closing.

He said: “The ebb and flow of the high street isn’t going to change whatever the economic climate but, while I’m as sad as anyone to see shops go, I take some very positive solace in the fact that it’s not a one way street. Only in the last few months we have had a number of businesses opening.”

Mr Gordon said he expected there would be no shortage of bidders to take on the Starbucks site.

He said he felt it was a good time for retailers and businesses to invest in the bottom end of South Street as progress continues to be made at the Brewery Square development.

He added: “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was a queue of people wanting it. It’s a fabulous building in an excellent location.”

Decision Was ‘Not Taken Lightly’

A SPOKESMAN for Stead and Simpson said that a closure date for the shop had not yet been confirmed but explained the reasons for the move.

She said: “It’s due to poor performance and rising costs which unfortunately meant the location was unsustainable. The decision to close a store is always a difficult one and isn’t taken lightly.”

The spokesman added that where possible staff from the store would be redeployed to nearby stores.

Starbucks did not comment in response to a request by the Echo to explain the reasons behind the closure of its Dorchester branch.