A WAVE of new businesses is bringing a fresh look to Dorchester as the county town continues to defy the recession.

The town has proved remarkably resilient over the tough trading period in recent years with a number of new businesses setting up to compensate for any closures.

There have also been new developments taking shape such as Brewery Square as the town still seems to thrive as a shopping hub for the surrounding rural area.

Phil Gordon from the Dorchester BID said that the number of new shops opening in the town since the BID first started operating in the town is approaching 80 while the number of closures is around 45.

The figures do not include businesses that have opened and closed within a short space of time or that have been taken over or rebranded as different firms.

Mr Gordon said: “What has given Dorchester the edge, perhaps, over the last few years isn’t one thing but a combination of different things.

“It’s a combination of a thriving and self-helping business community and timely support from organisations like the BID, the Chamber of Commerce and, in some cases, partnership projects with local authorities.”

While many towns have been faced with a raft of closures and empty shops, recent weeks have seen a number of businesses opening up in Dorchester town centre.

South Street has welcome the likes of Reloved vintage store and tea room, Hotter shoe shop, The Pantry cafe and Durnovaria wine bar while Sidewalk Clothing Co is due to open its doors on Thursday, October 3.

Mr Gordon said this diversity, as well as the unique offerings of the many new and existing independent shops, was what made Dorchester such an attractive place to shop.

He said: “The key thing that seems to be sustainable in Dorchester is that we are maintaining all these small independents and interesting, different and unusual things.”

We also reported in last week’s DT1 how two additions had come in the form of the Polish Shop in High East Street and Fantasy Flowers in Trinity Street, which has also been opened by a young entrepreneur from Poland.

New arrivals at Brewery Square include Jones the Bootmakers, German fashion brand Gerry Weber, Hobbs and Phase Eight.

Nobody is pretending it is all plain sailing for the county town, the closure of Dorchester prison at the end of the year is expected to impact on the local economy and some large shops have closed their doors, such as Dreams bed store in Weymouth Avenue and Moss Bros and JJB Sports in South Street.

However, the overall picture is a positive one and president of the Dorchester and District Chamber of Commerce Alison Moore says the key to the success, particularly of smaller businesses, is doing the basics right.

She said: “I think most of the businesses have got such a positive outlook and they offer good products at really good prices and the customer service is excellent.”

Mrs Moore added that the blend of big name chain stores at places like Brewery Square and the small independent retailers in the high street seemed to be working well for the town.

She said: “We have got Brewery Square with some big multi-nationals coming in there but so long as we make people aware of what else is going on in Dorchester and they stay to visit the smaller businesses we can make that quite a success.”

Mr Gordon said the county town can continue to build on its success, especially if it works to make more of its fascinating heritage and history.

He said: “I think there is a lot more work to be done yet but I do think Dorchester has a lot of rich heritage and places of interest to draw on and that as Dorchester does more to bring that to people’s attention it gives us a better opportunity to attract a wider market for visitors.”