Victoria’s Secret heading to Newcastle’s Monument Mall – if Hammerson’s posters are to be believed
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Newcastle is set to host one of the UK’s first branches of US lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret – if new posters around Hammerson’s Monument Mall development are to be believed.
Following the opening of the scheme’s new TK Maxx store last Thursday (28 February), posters featuring updated artist’s impressions of the development have been erected around the outside of the site. It’s no surprise that these should feature the already confirmed Jamie’s Italian and Armani Exchange (with its distinctive A|X branding), but the depiction of several high-profile new names – seemingly without any official announcement or fanfare – has understandably prompted both excitement and astonishment, not least in the ever-popular SkyscraperCity Forums.
Hammerson’s PR machine is quirky, to say the least – as you may recall, last July it unwittingly revealed the news of Armani Exchange and Jamie’s Italian via its website ahead of time, hastily deleting the references within hours. In turn, it was slow to then confirm the Jamie’s Italian letting, even when the licensing application ensured that it was common knowledge.
This latest development is equally curious. It seems inconceivable that Hammerson would depict real retailers that it hadn’t actually signed up for the scheme – after all, that’s why artist’s impressions like this (including the previous Monument Mall versions) typically feature indicative, made-up fascias at the point where tenants are still to be confirmed.
On the other hand, the fact that a Newcastle shop would be only the sixth Victoria’s Secret in the UK, following its entry to the British market last year, makes it rather more worthy of celebration than is currently the case. Though its North American business features over 1,000 stores and generates an annual turnover of more than $6 billion, Victoria’s Secret only has three London stores so far (at Westfield Stratford City, Bond Street and Stansted Airport), plus two more due to open this year at Trinity Leeds and the Trafford Centre in Manchester. So, having a branch in Newcastle at such an early stage would really be quite something.
What of the rest of the scheme? Well, as expected, Jamie’s Italian is shown occupying the prominent, Monument-facing corner spot that was previously home to NUFC’s shop, while a name not previously mentioned – the audio specialist Bose – is pictured occupying the unit formed out of the old Blackett Street mall entrance. To date, Bose has just six standalone UK stores showcasing its full consumer product range, only two of which – at Meadowhall in Sheffield and at Manchester’s Arndale Centre – are outside the London area.
Next to Bose, the inclusion of the upmarket fashion brand Hugo Boss is less of a surprise, given that the retailer’s requirement for space in Newcastle is well known following its efforts to bag the nearby unit that eventually went to The North Face. Again, however, this is the first time that Hugo Boss has been officially mentioned in relation to Monument Mall. Before that, Tyneside shoppers will seemingly be able to check out the new Hugo Boss menswear shop that the company website claims is opening at Metrocentre later this month, taking the former Cecil Gee premises at 79-81 Cameron Walk – Metrocentre tell me they know nothing about it, however.
In the next unit along, it’s not possible to make out the exact name – seemingly something like ‘-rry F’ – though it’s always possible that’s it’s just a made-up fascia for an as yet unlet unit. After that it’s Victoria’s Secret, Armani Exchange and another apparently unlet unit, currently badged under what appears to be a fictional ‘Max Cosmetics’ fascia.
Next, on the Blackett Street side, is another upmarket name that hasn’t cropped up in relation to Monument Mall before: the New York-based ‘old-world apothecary’ Kiehl’s. The company already sells its products through the nearby Fenwick and Space.NK stores, but a standalone store in Newcastle would be another vote of confidence in the city centre – at present, the nearest specific Kiehl’s branches are in York and Edinburgh, both opened in the latter half of 2012.
Finally, the corner unit at the junction of Blackett Street and Northumberland Street shows what appears to be a jeweller’s, but the absence of any signage suggests that this too is just indicative.
So, in summary what do we know? Well, the artist’s impressions suggest that there are three units still to fill, but that Hammerson has already managed to bag Victoria’s Secret, Bose, Hugo Boss and Kiehl’s in addition to the already announced Armani Exchange and Jamie’s Italian – an astonishingly impressive line-up, if confirmed.
Indeed, the original (and now rejected) plans for a ‘flagship’ Barclays on the prime corner site just seem even more incongruous now that Hammerson’s “aspirational retail pitch” is really starting to take shape.
My retail consultancy business, CannyInsights.com, works with retailers nationwide to improve their stores, customer communications and market knowledge, and can provide bespoke place- and sector-specific market insight. For more information, visit www.cannyinsights.com, drop me an email, or give me a call on (0191) 461 0361.