Peacocks confirms imminent reopening of Gateshead town centre store
Rescued fashion retailer Peacocks has confirmed that it is to reopen its store in Gateshead town centre, most likely this coming Friday (22 June).
Edinburgh Woollen Mill acquired 395 Peacocks stores out of administration in February, but 224 shops – including Gateshead, and nine others in the North East – ceased trading with immediate effect. Reports at the time, however, had suggested that up to 75 of those closed stores might be reopened, should the landlords in question be willing to negotiate rent reductions and a move to monthly (rather than the traditional quarterly) rent payments.
Though expanding retailers such as Poundworld and Iceland have acquired tranches of ex-Peacocks sites, the Gateshead store has remained empty for the last four months. However, all the signage and fittings have remained in place, which is presumably why the store can be reopened so quickly; certainly, there was no sign that anything might be happening when I walked past on Sunday.
The news of Peacocks’ reopening is a vote of confidence in Gateshead town centre as the massive Tesco-anchored Trinity Square development takes shape nearby. Though Peacocks has reopened a number of stores across the UK to date – among them Belfast’s Park Centre, Dereham, Ellesmere Port, Exeter, Folkestone, Flint, Kendal, Llanelli, Merry Hill, Parkstone, Uxbridge, Wolverhampton and Workington – Gateshead is, to my knowledge, the first in the North East to get a reprieve.
Peacocks’ friendly customer services guy told me that “a couple more” reopenings were planned, though not necessarily in our region. Equally, given the time that has now elapsed since the Gateshead store’s closure, he was unsure how many of the shop’s former managers and staff members might be returning.
Meanwhile, since news broke nearly a month ago that Edinburgh Woollen Mill was also interested in rescuing Hoopers department store in Carlisle, there’s been no further update that I’m aware of. Time is running out, however; Hoopers’ customer services confirmed to me today that the planned closing date of 23 June – this coming Saturday – still stands. [UPDATE, 22 June: BBC Look North says that the closure has now been postponed to July while talks continue with a potential buyer - presumably EWM Group.]
I know in the past I’ve mocked Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s eponymous chain for its garish window posters and seemingly perennial Sales. Credit where it’s due to EWM Group, however – it rescued Jane Norman a year ago, rescued (and is now regrowing) Peacocks, and may yet help achieve a happy ending for Hoopers.
Edinburgh’s Woollen Mill’s point-of-sale materials may jar, but it must be doing something right if it can keep rescuing failed businesses and investing in the high street when others are struggling.
Thank you to Soult’s Retail View reader, Darren E, for tipping me off about the reopening of Gateshead Peacocks.