MOVES by independent retailers to expand into larger town centre premises are a further sign of a resurgence in the local economy, business leaders have said.

Sharon Steel, who has run her events and party products firm Arty Party in one of the smallest shops in Thirsk for a decade, has relocated from Westgate to the former Well Heeled fashion boutique premises on Kirkgate as neighbouring traders report a rising number of shoppers.

Mrs Steel, of Sowerby, said after taking on apprentice Holly Watson in Hambleton District Council’s Changing Lives, Building Business initiative, and receiving funds to develop her website, she had felt confident about expanding the firm.

She said: “The shop has been heaving and it has been about keeping up with demand with customers coming from up to 40 miles away.

“I am now hoping to take on another apprentice in the coming months.”

After establishing a strong customer base at the Kirkgate premises over three years, Well Heeled has expanded into the former Thirsk Tourist Information Centre premises.

Chairman of Thirsk and District Chamber of Trade Guy Baragwanath said while the retail sector continued to face challenging trading conditions, those selling good quality products who effectively promoted their businesses were succeeding.

He said: “With the expansion of our local businesses into larger and, for some businesses, additional premises, this is a very positive sign for Thirsk.

“Not only does it show that the town centre is drawing people back, it highlights that our local independent retailers are able to attract people from further afield and some of the very best in the region.”