What’s next as H&M leaves South­port?

Southport Visiter - - Front Page - BY JAMIE LOPEZ jamie.lopez@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @jamie_lopez1

SOUTH­PORT’S H&M store closed down last week­end, leav­ing a large space to fill on Chapel Street.

The shop closed for the fi­nal time on New Year’s Eve af­ter first open­ing in 2010 in part of the former Woolworths store. That had been split into three units af­ter the chain went bust.

H&M had pre­vi­ously been forced to close for three months dur­ing the sum­mer, when emer­gency main­te­nance was needed for safety rea­sons.

It has now closed its doors per­ma­nently, with the chain re­fus­ing to com­ment on why it has left South­port.

A sign on the door of the store reads: “The H&M store is now per­ma­nently closed. You can shop on­line at hm.com

“The near­est stores are in Liver­pool, Pre­ston and Wi­gan. Thank you for shop­ping at H&M.”

The fu­ture of the site is un­cer­tain. GCW, the prop­erty firm responsible for the site, has the unit listed on­line for a rental price of £150,000 per year, down from £215,000 when it was first listed in Novem­ber. Who­ever takes over the store will also have to pay an­nual busi­ness rates of £265,000.

Af­ter H&M fol­lowed BHS, Top­man and Top­shop in leav­ing Chapel Street in re­cent times, a new clothes shop would seem an ideal re­place­ment, but there are sev­eral other op­tions.

With such a large space right in the mid­dle of the town cen­tre, it is ar­guably hard to imag­ine a new, in­de­pen­dent busi­ness mov­ing in – so many res­i­dents will be hop­ing for a big name chain such as Dis­ney, Lego or Ap­ple Store, all of which have proved pop­u­lar in nearby Liver­pool.

How­ever, it is worth not­ing that both Lush and Pret a Manger have both pre­vi­ously ruled out open­ing South­port shops, sug­gest­ing that some chains may be re­luc­tant to open here.

Al­ter­na­tively, the space could be used for a new res­tau­rant or fast food op­er­a­tion.

Hugh Evans, the CEO of South­port BID, told the Visiter that the clo­sure re­flected cur­rent high street trends but that there is still cause to be op­ti­mistic.

He said: “The clo­sure of any town cen­tre busi­ness, large or small, is ob­vi­ously very dis­ap­point­ing and our thoughts and best wishes go out to those af­fected.

“The last few years has seen a def­i­nite and con­tin­ued shift in re­tail trends with small and medium-sized high streets across the coun­try strug­gling to com­pete on equal terms with large cities, out-of-town shop­ping cen­tres and the ex­plo­sion in on­line shop­ping.

“Nev­er­the­less there are many pos­i­tive rea­sons to be op­ti­mistic. In the next few weeks we will be pub­lish­ing South­port’s new in­vest­ment prospec­tus which cap­tures the story of re­cent growth and de­vel­op­ment in­clud­ing the im­prov­ing foot­fall, tourist visi­tor num­bers and sales data, and the re­cent and fu­ture open­ing of new busi­nesses.

“This prospec­tus will cham­pion South­port’s in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to large and in­de­pen­dent in­vestors on a na­tional stage, giv­ing the best op­por­tu­nity to cap­ture new big brands for our town”.

What would you like to see take over the store? Let us know by email­ing jamie.lopez@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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