Next, BHS, Primark, Clas Ohlson – photo updates of Newcastle’s new retail developments
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I had a quick wander around Newcastle city centre today, where the new Next flagship store is gearing up for its opening at 11am this Thursday (12 May).
Barriers around the outside of the building mean that it’s still quite difficult to get a look inside. However, all the new glazing and signage is now in place, meaning that we can finally get a good idea of how the store will look from the street.
It’s never going to be the most beautiful property, but it’s amazing how much better it looks now that much of the drab brickwork has been nibbled away.
It’s a shame that something can’t now be done about the toytown architecture of the adjacent Sports Direct store, slotted in over Blackett Street in the early 1990s. However, I was pleased to see today that Sports Direct’s escalator from the street level – directly next to the new Next entrance – was back in action.
As far as I’m aware, the escalator has been shuttered and out of use for several years, and reinstating it goes some way to enlivening the dark and unpleasant space where the building sails over the road.
Meanwhile, I understand that Next’s existing store on Northumberland Street closed at the end of trading on Saturday (7 May), with staff reportedly “in until 3am working on moving and setting up between the old and new stores.”
Work will presumably start soon on transforming the site into Newcastle’s ‘new concept’ BHS store, ahead of its planned autumn opening. Meanwhile, boards are now up around BHS’s old site two doors along the street, signalling the beginning of work to extend the adjacent Primark store.
At the other end of the street, builders have also wasted no time in descending upon the old Collectables store, which closed three weeks ago, and is being taken over by the Swedish hardware retailer Clas Ohlson. Clas Ohlson’s latest news updates are still referring to an opening date of August, which on the face of it sounds quite ambitious. However, the plans show that the store’s existing lift and escalator are being retained, meaning that the main task is installing the new shopfit rather than undertaking any major alterations to the building fabric.
As I walked by, I also noticed workmen – and rubble – in the space recently vacated by the Green Market, soon to be occupied by Urban Outfitters. Newcastle city centre is certainly going to have a busy – and exciting – few months ahead.