“It is frustrating to hear negative comments about one of our best [shopping] outlets.”

That's the response from one business owner to recent stories about The Guild in Wilton. 

The new managers of the site took over in 2020, announced in October they would be rebranding the shopping village and said the departure of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill in August presented them with "an exciting opportunity to redevelop their former space".

But almost three years later the building still stands empty with no sign of new a business moving in.

Sofa Smith has been located in The Courtyard at Wilton Guild for three years but the company creates all its own upholstery and frame-making at their site in Hampshire.

Owner Mike Smith said: “It is frustrating to read negative comments about the centre. The shop in the Guild is one of our best outlets.”

Sofa Smith is just one of three in The Courtyard which includes the House of Mac hairdressers, and The Weavers café.

Many of the units have been replaced by businesses wanting office space only.

Read more: Frustration at lack of shops in centre

Mike Smith said: “I think the problem is the marketing and the fact that more office space is being promoted. It’s okay if office space is on a second floor but it will reduce footfall if visitors to the centre cannot go and browse.”

He believes his business is doing well partially because Sofa Smith is a destination. 

He said: "Customers have a purpose when visiting."

He has noticed a dramatic loss in sales of soft furnishings which were a substantial part of the business which occurred when people were browsing the centre.

Mike said: “Despite the loss of businesses, the area is still vibrant and busy. We have lots of businesses here that do really well."

Read more: City centre shop to close

Eagle One took over the centre in 2020. The rebranding of the shopping village was announced with the marketing director, Phil Maclean having previously told the Journal that more than £1 million had been invested into the Guild since the pandemic.

He said: "Like many retail destinations, the pandemic has had a profound impact on the retail industry, and it has also prompted many people to rethink their lifestyles and work habits. As a result, the recovery has been slower than we had hoped.

"In response to these challenges, we, like many other shopping scheme owners, have had to diversify to ensure the scheme's long-term sustainability."