Wigan high street experiences highs and lows

The volatility of Wigan's retail scene shows no sign of abating after a week of comings and goings.

Friday, 2nd November 2018, 2:40 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd November 2018, 3:43 pm
A Debenhams store

The Grand Arcade has been celebrating the arrival of three new businesses to the mall (one an old friend) but that has been off-set by concerns for the future of its anchor Debenhams store.

This, coupled with fellow large tenant Marks and Spencer talking about vacating to set up a Robin Park food hall instead, and the announcement that prominent gentlemen’s outfitter Greenwoods in Market Place is closing down too means that all is far from well.

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On the positive side the novelty store Menkind and phone chain 3 have recently opened their doors and the other day it was announced that HMV, saved from the brink by a takeover, is returning to the Grand Arcade after a five-year absence.

But even that is at the expense of New Look Men which is putting up its shutters at the end of the week. HMV workmen will be moving in on November 30 to remove changing rooms and offices to expand the floor space and opening day has been set for November 30.

But Greenwoods is definitely shutting after decades in the town, M&S are still considering pulling out of Wigan and dozens of staff - mostly on part-time contracts - at Debenhams are now awaiting news on their future.Having recorded a £57m profit in 2017 the company has now suffered the biggest loss in its history: one touching almost £500m.

Bosses say it was stung by exceptional write-downs of £512.4m, primarily relating to store and lease provisions, IT costs and impairment charges.

As a consequence, it has announced that 50 of its outlets are to close over the next five years and a further 20 will be “under review.”

No list of which stores are affected has yet been released.

Grand Arcade manager John Sanson said: “Retail is undergoing dramatic changes at the moment and it is pleasing to see that it is not all negative as far as the high street is concerned as we welcome three new tenants.

"As far as Debenhams is concerned I believe the Wigan outlet is a profitable one and we can only hope that that will count in its favour. Who knows what criteria are being applied for closures though?”