THE owner of a newly opened Ledbury business has described her happiness at being part of the “renewed retail energy in the town”.

Marie Forrest was helped by town mayor Andrew Manns to cut the ribbon on her new dispensing opticians and eyewear styling studio on the Homend.

Keen observers of Ledbury’s business history will recognise the site of Forrest as the former location of Pip Powell’s bicycle shop.

Marie said: “I’m a trained dispensing optician and eyewear stylist, returning to this profession after a break. 

“I’m very happy to be part of the sense of renewed retail energy in the town now we’re all getting back to normality, and I’m also happy to be opening in Ledbury — my home town for the past 22 years.”

She also pointed to other recently opened businesses in the town, including Pot & Page cafe, the Ledbury Leaf plant shop, the Ledberry and others.

“I think Ledbury has survived and thrived because we’ve not gone the route of inviting chains and multiples to set up shop in the town,” she said. “These were the casualties of the pandemic which, like the dinosaurs, they were too big to survive. 

“The new model for the High street is for businesses that are offering what can’t be ordered online — so like myself, offering a personalised service. 

“Also, now more people are working from home, they will be shopping locally rather than in the cities where they used to work.”

He added that another reason for the town’s success was its residents. “The people of Ledbury are very loyal and don’t just pay lip service to the term ‘buy local’. They actually do it,” she said. “That’s why so many independent shops exist in our town.”

She said that in her own business, it was all about getting to know her clients, usually over a cup of coffee. “My goal is to provide the specs wearers of Ledbury with beautiful, colourful and quality glasses they will love wearing. I have frames to suit all tastes and personalities, including eco ranges made from biodegradable materials, and an amazing hand painted, colourful range as worn by Prue Leith on the bake-off. I’m also offering a large selection of sunglasses, all of which can be fitted with prescription lenses.”