Newcastle’s Calvin Klein Underwear and Urban Outfitters stores take shape
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While the rescue of Newcastle’s TJ Hughes store ensures that the value stretch of Grainger Street retains its retail anchor, work is also progressing well on the more upmarket developments at the street’s Monument end.
In the unit freed up by Kurt Geiger’s move to Eldon Square, the new Calvin Klein Underwear (CKU) store was being stocked when I walked past this morning, suggesting that its opening is imminent. This makes sense, given that the shop’s window poster claims that it will open in ‘August 2011’, but there’s no information as yet on the CKU website’s store locator page.
While CK underwear is ubiquitous in high-end fashion stores such as House of Fraser, John Lewis, Debenhams and Asos, one thing I hadn’t realised is quite how few standalone CKU shops there currently are in the UK. The CKU website’s store locator lists just six dedicated stores in Europe, all in the UK – three in London, and one each in Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow – though there’s definitely a recently opened one in Cardiff too. Still, having CKU coming to Newcastle is quite a coup, and reinforces the city’s reputation as one of the country’s top retail locations.
Next door, work to transform the old Green Market and adjacent former Jigsaw unit into the North East’s first branch of Urban Outfitters is also well underway. Management positions at the store are currently being advertised on the Urban Outfitters website, which claims that the shop will be opening “this autumn”. The roles on offer – including managers for Womenswear, Menswear, Women’s Accessories and Housewares – also provide some clues regarding the categories that the store will stock.
Compared to CKU, Urban Outfitters has a slightly more extensive UK store estate so far – 16 stores, according to its website, of which four are in London – but again, it’s a positive sign that Newcastle has secured the retailer ahead of other major centres such as Nottingham, Norwich, Leicester or Reading.
One thing that remains to be seen, of course, is how far the opening of these and other top fashion stores (such as the recent arrival of Jaeger) marks the beginning of a new higher-end retail cluster in the city.
We’ve seen it before, a decade ago, when the arrival of fashion stores such as Jigsaw Menswear, Hobbs, Envy and Kookai encouraged the Grainger Town Project to herald Market Street as the ‘Bond Street of the North’. However, the letting of the nearby anchor unit to TJ Hughes – rather than the Harvey Nichols or Selfridges that had been originally hoped – rather undermined that vision. Of the fashion retailers that set up back then in Market Street, none remain today.
However, if a successful Urban Outfitters store can be the “high quality fashion” anchor for Grainger Town that TJ Hughes never has been, Newcastle might yet be able to develop its very own ‘Bond Street’.