Leading independent retailer to extend 27-year stay in Bicester as it signs up for new, bigger shop

Expansion welcomed by senior councillor as a “real commitment to Bicester town centre”

One of Bicester’s leading and longest-established independent retailers has made a big commitment to the town centre by signing up to a new long-term lease in a bigger shop unit.

Coles Books will move to a new unit in Crown Walk in June this year, extending a near 30-year history for the business in Bicester town centre. The book shop originally opened in Crown Walk in 1990, when it was known simply as ‘The Book Shop’. It was taken over in 1994 at which point it became Cole’s Bookstore. Current owners, Caroline and Nigel French (pictured), took the business on in 2008.

As they celebrate their 10th anniversary as owners, they’ll take on the former Cargo unit next to WHSmith in Crown Walk, which has been empty for more than 5 years. It’s double the size of their current Crown Walk unit, and will allow a major expansion in activity at the shop.

The new lease has been arranged with technical support from Neil Wild of commercial agency, Wild Property Consultancy, who considered various town properties before recommending this particular opportunity to Coles. 

Nigel French, co-owner of Coles Books with his wife, Caroline says: “The bookshop has always enjoyed strong links with the local community, the move to bigger premises will help develop and strengthen those links further. We wish to thank Neil Wild for his excellent and detailed advice all the way through, and also the support of the landlord and their adviser, Jonathan Thomas of agency jrbt.” Caroline says: “This is such an exciting opportunity for Coles Books, and we very much look forward to sharing it with our customers.”

Cllr Lynn Pratt, Lead Member for Estates and Economy at Cherwell District Council, says: “I am delighted that Coles Books are moving to larger premises in Crown Walk. This shows real commitment to Bicester town centre by Nigel and Caroline French, and I hope this will encourage other retailers to come into the town centre. Bicester is a growing town and to that end we need a good retail choice to serve the people who live here now and will do so in the future.”

As well as a wide range of books, Coles Books specialise in signed editions, and stock a growing range of stationery, greetings cards, gifts and giftwrap. The new shop will also feature an increased range of vinyl records and turntables, and offer opportunity for Coles to further develop author events, and cement its cultural contribution to Bicester town centre. Nigel is a founding member of the recently-formed Bicester Town Traders’ Forum.

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