H&M have confirmed that their store in Stratford will close this spring following widespread speculation on social media.The company has yet to confirm its reason for leaving the premises, but a spokesperson for UK and European, the company behind the £30million project to develop Bell Court, said the decision to leave was taken by H&M.
The spokesperson confirmed that the company was not asked to vacate the unit by the developer.
H&M have yet to confirm the exact date its store will close, though it has been reported that staff have been told it will shut at the end of May.
A spokesperson for H&M said: “H&M’s Stratford-Upon-Avon store will permanently close for trade in Spring 2017. All customers can shop online at www.hm.com or visit their nearest stores which are located at the Kingfisher Shopping Centre, Redditch and 60-62 Parade, Leamington Spa.”
The company has not said whether it would be seeking alternative premises in Stratford, though speculation is mounting over whether the chain may have an eye on one of the town’s vacant units such as the BHS building.
A spokesperson for UK and European said: “With H&M closing, we now have the opportunity to bring new and exciting names to Stratford-upon-Avon.
“This will help complement and diversify the offering at Bell Court, ensuring it becomes a high quality leisure and shopping destination within the heart of the town centre.”
Joe Baconnet, director of Stratforward BID, said: “I am trying to find out more at the moment, but I am surprised by this announcement. It’s a real shame for the shoppers and visitors to Stratford-upon-Avon and I think H&M will ultimately regret their decision.
“To have continued trading while the remodelling of Bell Court went on all around them and then to leave as the scheme is finally completed and about to deliver on its considerable promise is a strange decision.
“However, it does give UK and European another unit to attract other retailers to Stratford.
“We have committed to work with the developer to continue to attract occupiers to Stratford.”
Bell Court is set to open for business in June when the Everyman Cinema, designed to attract people to the development, opens its doors.
The redevelopment of the former Town Square has been widely welcomed across Stratford, following years of poor footfall and empty units at the site.
UK and European are planning to fill the units at Bell Court with high quality restaurants and retailers.
Chains such as Nandos and Miller and Carter Steakhouse have already confirmed their tenancy in the new development along with bar operator All Bar One.
News of H&M’s closure has not been welcomed on social media, with many Facebook users lamenting the loss of the store.
Abby Smith commented: “One of the more decent shops in town! I buy most of my son’s clothes there. Such a shame.”
Gavin Lambert added: “Wonder if H&M will move to one of the empty stores elsewhere in town? I love H&M hope it stays.”
Earlier this month fashion retailer Jaeger, which has a shop on Bridge Street, entered administration.
Last week AlixPartners, who have been appointed as administrators, confirmed that the Stratford shop is one of 20 Jaeger stores that will close.
Six people are currently employed at the shop, though the exact closure date has yet to be announced.
What do you think about H&M’s decision to move out? What would you like to see in its place? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.