What’s next as H&M leaves Southport?
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 email@example.com