CLOTHES giant Primark is to take over an empty city centre shop, creating a huge new store.
The chain is set to extend its Cascades Shopping Centre outlet to the 30,000 sq ft former Woolworths shop on Commercial Road, Portsmouth.
The move – which will bring the shop back into use after being empty for almost two-and-a-half years – has been welcomed by city planners and regeneration leaders.
Portsmouth City Council’s city centre manager Barry Walker said: ‘It’s great news for the centre of Portsmouth and we’re really glad the shop will be used again. Primark is a very successful city centre store and we’re delighted it’s expanding here.’
The Woolworths store closed for good on December 27, 2008, after having a presence on Commercial Road for almost 94 years.
It opened its first shop on the city centre shopping street on August 22, 1914.
But since the company’s collapse, the large store has remained an empty space on Commercial Road’s busy southern section.
Mr Walker said: ‘We don’t often have any vacancies on that part of the road and there’s been work going on like bringing in new benches, planting trees and of course refurbishing the fountain, to make the environment nicer for shoppers. So the fact this will no longer be empty is a really positive thing as well.’
Primark has already taken the store and has applied to be allowed to put up hoardings so work can take place.
The firm estimates a 26-week working period, meaning the store could be open before the end of the year.
Mr Walker said: ‘The city centre has a good range of stores, and while our work’s always ongoing and we try to make improvements when and where we can, we are pleased with the way the southern section is operating at the moment.’
City regeneration boss, Cllr Mike Hancock, said: ‘It’s very good news. I’m delighted with it. Primark’s a company that’s proven to fill a niche in the market. It’s a really good thing, and I’m sure other good things will come soon to Cascades as well.’ Primark did not comment despite repeated efforts to contact the firm.