The North Face opens its Newcastle flagship store
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The Californian outdoor brand The North Face has opened its new store in Newcastle in the last few days – though you could easily be forgiven for not realising.
The shop, at 9-15 Blackett Street, seems to have opened with little fanfare. As yet, its details don’t show up on The North Face UK website; there’s been no announcement via The North Face Twitter account; and, as recently as four days ago when I walked past, window posters were declaring only that the store was ‘opening soon’. By yesterday, however, the store was very much open for business, trading from both the ground and first floors.
The apparent reticence is surprising, given that the Newcastle branch of The North Face has been confirmed as one of the chain’s Flagship stores – a status it shares with only five other UK shops, in Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool and London. Also, I’m told that The North Face had been eager to secure this space for some time, eventually beating off competition for the site from the fashion brand Hugo Boss.
The lease of the 2,500 sq ft property has been for sale for a good couple of years (with an advertised annual rent of £202,500 PAX) due to Schuh’s relocation to the new St Andrew’s Way section of Eldon Square in February last year. However, Schuh continued to trade from the old site alongside the new one until a replacement tenant was secured.
While The North Face seems to have made some attempt to remove the residue left on the store’s fascia by the old Schuh logo and ‘to let’ signs, the overall effect – with a small The North Face logo stuck not quite in the middle – is still quite messy.
However, as Newcastle Historian has pointed out in the Skyscrapercity Forums, the current solution seems like a temporary one while the currently ‘pending’ planning application for internally illuminated projecting and fascia signs – on a reclad fascia – is determined. Still, it’s a pity that the store couldn’t open with its ‘finished’ look already in place – the present frontage doesn’t really do justice to the store’s pleasing window displays, which are simple yet striking.
Niggles aside, however, The North Face’s arrival in Newcastle is a very welcome one. Its presence reinforces the sense of the Grey’s Monument area developing into the city’s upmarket quarter – something I’ve blogged about before – with Hotel Chocolat, Jaeger London, Calvin Klein Underwear and Liam Gallagher’s Pretty Green all having arrived in the last year or so, and quirky US fashion and homewares giant Urban Outfitters set to join them on 9 December.
Furthermore, with Hugo Boss still understood to have an active requirement for space in Newcastle city centre, the demand for decent-sized units in the right locations doesn’t look set to dry up just yet.