Poundland to take Eldon Square spot next to Waitrose
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If you’ve passed through the St George’s Way mall of Newcastle’s Eldon Square in the last few days, you’ll have noticed new hoardings around the three units that sit between Waitrose and Costa.
Though St George’s Way – opened on the old Eldon Square bus station site in February 2008 – is markedly busier these days than when I wrote about it in 2010, this particular stretch has never really taken off.
The unit closest to Waitrose housed a short-lived Oil & Vinegar between 2008 and 2009, and until last month was occupied by the Holland & Barrett-owned fitness brand GNC. Two doors along, a unit that had stood empty for a long time had a brief spell as Baguette Express, while the one in the middle is yet to be occupied at all.
When I saw the three units being worked on together, I wondered whether we might be getting the long-mooted extension to Waitrose – a store that, after a seemingly slow start, is really thriving. The main barrier to an enlarged Waitrose, however, has always been the difference in floor levels – the units being worked on step up the slope to the bus station – though my recent visit to the Little Waitrose in Shrewsbury showed that Waitrose will tolerate steps and ramps if everything else about the location works.
I understand, however, that the three units are, in fact, being combined into a new location for Poundland.
The value retailer currently has two Eldon Square stores – one facing Clayton Street in the 2010 Eldon Square South extension (above), and another (older) one in the former post office location in Sidgate.
The latter store, however, is having to move to make way for Intu’s new £17m restaurant quarter in High Friars and Sidgate – hence its relocation to this new site in St George’s Way.
Other tenants in the area earmarked for redevelopment are also in the process of moving – womenswear chain Bonmarché has already relocated outside Eldon Square to the old Triple S in Grainger Street, for example (revealing what appears to be a new logo along the way), while fashion store Rebel Rebel has just moved to the ex-Ann Summers site opposite.
In many ways, the new Poundland site makes more sense than the current ex-post office one. Indeed, when the Clayton Street store opened, many people were surprised that Poundland retained its smaller store in what is basically the same street, probably no more than 100m away.
St George’s Way, at least, is much further away from the Eldon Square South branch so may introduce the Poundland brand to people who would never have ventured into the more secondary Clayton Street area of town.
The most remarkable thing, however, is that Poundland these days can open a new store next to Waitrose and opposite John Lewis without anyone apparently batting an eyelid.
It’s a sign of quite how far the now London Stock Exchange-listed Poundland has come in terms of its profile and image, and a demonstration of one of the most fascinating retail trends of the last few years – namely shoppers’ readiness to embrace high end and value retail at the same time.
My retail consultancy business, CannyInsights.com, provides bespoke place- and sector-specific market insight, including detailed coverage of the North East and nationwide. It also works with retailers to improve their stores, customer communications and market knowledge. For more information, visit www.cannyinsights.com, drop me an email, or give me a call on (0191) 461 0361.