Primark’s message to Brum as many more stores join the missing

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Naked as a worm!  Forever 21 in the Arena after it closes on Christmas 2019



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These are the previously cherished household names that have been part of retail folklore for years.
And, in a particular case, centuries.

When shoppers returned to Birmingham city center on April 12 – the day non-essential shopping could resume after the third lockdown – at least Primark repeated a big ‘Hellooooooo Brum’ to its customers.

And it was even as early as 6:35 a.m. when he let people 25 minutes early for navigation time.

But, as you can also see in the video above, some other well-known brands that are now missing include the 110-year-old chocolate factory, Thorntons.

Even Debenhams, a founding member of Bullring, will only reopen until May 15 at the latest – and the company is 243 years old.

Like Woolworths, BHS, Timothy Whites, C&A and Maplin before them, other big names in Topman and Topshop, Burton, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins are all disappearing from the high streets, while others including Currys PC World have already decided from the great heart of the city of Birmingham. the center is not for them.

For Debenhams, it will be a classic case of going, going, going soon.

Debenhams, a founding member of Bullring, will reopen for sale on Monday April 12 – but will be closed permanently on May 15. Topshop and Topman (top left) have already closed
(Image: Graham Young / BirminghamLive)

Founded in 1778, family ownership of Debenhams ended in 1928 when it first became a public enterprise.

In 1950, it was the largest department store in the country when it owned 84 companies and 110 stores.

But, having seen spectacular growth in the 20th century, its history has been complicated and eventful since 2000 – especially when compared to the hybrid street and online model known as Next.

And so, as Primark continues to rely on stores like its two-year-old ‘world’s largest’ site on High Street, Birmingham, Debenhams looks set to become an online-only name after being purchased by the Internet giant Boohoo.

Lights Out: Bullring anchor and founding member Debenhams disappears from main streets after 243 years
(Image: Graham Young / BirminghamLive)

Other stores gone or in progress

The city’s biggest victim of the Covid-19 era to date has been John Lewis in Grand Central.

The company announced in July that it would not be celebrating the fifth anniversary of its flagship site on September 24, 2020 – and confirmed the news in August.

The store’s name was eventually removed from the interior atrium wall of Grand Central during the third nationwide lockdown, but remains outside the building, for now.

Forever 21 had already closed its doors by Christmas 2019 – and will be replaced in May by Treetop Adventure Golf, the first sign of real diversification beyond food and drink for the Bullring, which opened on September 4, 2003 with “Shop til you drop” in mind.

Forever 21 had one of the best arena lights, but it closed on Christmas 2019 – a non-commercial attraction called Treetop Adventure Golf is slated to open in its place at the end of May 2021.
(Image: Graham Young / BirminghamLive)

US giant GAP withdrew at the end of last summer, but the site surely cannot remain closed for long given its privileged light and airy position near the center’s customer service center.

The collapse of the Arcadia Group last November means Topshop and Topman are no longer on the opposite side of the Arena’s Upper Mall from where GAP was.

Though surprised by John Lewis, the company he was director of when it opened at Grand Central in 2015, West Midlands mayor Andy Street has no doubts that Bullring is still the No.1 draw in Birmingham.

“The center of gravity of retail in Birmingham is changing – the Bullring is a huge attraction,” he says.

“The companies like (Forever 21 and GAP) that are leaving are not a reflection of the Bullrings, it is a reflection on themselves.

“There has always been a regular refresh of the arenas and we shouldn’t be worried about that. “

Crowds gather ahead of the opening of the world's largest Primark store
Buyers have been flocking to Primark since it opened on April 11, 2019 – until the coronavirus pandemic struck in March 2020
(Image: Aaron Chown / PA)

Back in the outside world

Primark has pride of place on the High Street.

When it opened on April 11, 2019, it was advertised as “the world’s largest Primark”.

Buyers loved it so much that they even came by coach from places like Scunthorpe, so it seemed like the town had found a very strong magnet so close to the imperious Bullring.

Win-win, as they say.

But rapidly changing trends and the growth of online shopping are already placing slippages under sluggish retail operators.

The multi-store Pavilions shopping center closed on May 20, 2016 after 29 years.

August 14, 2005: A major overhaul of the Pavilions failed to save it in the long run.  After the closure in May 2016, the redeveloped site reopened on April 11, 2019 as a "the largest Primark in the world"
August 14, 2005: A major overhaul of the Pavilions failed to save it in the long run. After its closure in May 2016, the redeveloped site reopened on April 11, 2019 as “the world’s largest Primark”
(Image: Graham Young / BirminghamLive)

The entire site was emptied and threaded like a fish, before Primark was cleverly built around the original skeleton of the beams.

Despite Primark’s internationally recognized success, the other companies around it are not doing as well.

The relatively new Currys PC World store across the High Street moved last year.

Its nearest branch is now located in Apex Retail Park at the top of Highgate – there is also an even larger store at Solihull Retail Park off Marshall Lake Road, close to other retail park locations. for Next and the next M&S.

The former Currys PC World (left) on the High Street has closed despite the success of Primark (right)
The former Currys PC World (left) on the High Street has closed despite the success of Primark (right)
(Image: Graham Young / BirminghamLive)

The Carphone Warehouse, which was once at the foot of the Rotunda, has also disappeared.

Posters on his old windows say he’s now inside Currys PC World at… Highgate!

Putting the two together has created a business that literally looks like a couple of rappers on the singles charts: Currys PC World with Carphone Warehouse.

Following…!

Across New Street, Burton is another famous name that’s just empty behind the glass.

It’s hard to imagine now, but The Burton Group actually owned Debenhams from 1985 to 1998.

Party for a Burton: The New Street clothing store has been emptied.
Party for a Burton: The New Street clothing store has been emptied.
(Image: Graham Young / BirminghamLive)

Following a split, Debenhams was listed on the London Stock Exchange from 2003 and has had so many corporate adventures that it is perhaps not surprising that his basic legacy has been lost. along the way.

Meanwhile, although Sir Philip Green became the sole owner of Burton in 2002 through his Arcadia group, which went into administration in 2020.

Boohoo acquired Burton from directors in February and will launch it as an online brand to accompany Dorothy Perkins and Wallis of Arcadia.

Round trip: Forward and backward facing mannequins in the High Street window reflecting the Primark rotunda shortly before the end of the third lockdown
Roundtrip: Forward and backward facing mannequins in the High Street window reflecting the Primark rotunda shortly before the end of the third lockdown
(Image: Graham Young / BirminghamLive)

He bought the three companies for just £ 25million and they will become stable online partners of… Debenhams.

Boohoo, remember, was founded in 2006 but today has a heritage that can be measured in centuries.

After the departure of Debenhams (1778), the oldest high street mass retailer is now WHSmith (1792) – although just two years ago even its presence in Birmingham was shrink-wrapped to keep up with the Union Street end of the old BHS store. .

Its former giant High Street site (with an entrance near Primark) remains vacant.

Thorntons,
Thorntons, “Made with love since 1911.” Birmingham’s High Street store survived the closure and rebuilding of old Primark pavilions from 2016 to 2019, but not Covid-19.
(Image: Graham Young / BirminghamLive)

Goodbye chocolates

The new store front says it all: Thorntons, 1911

But even this family-favorite century-old chocolatier has pulled out of High Street retail.

So that means no more buying a box of treats for a parent – or ice cream for the kids on a hot day.

April 11, 2019: Dawn view from Moor Street station of the rotunda next to the world's largest Primark on opening day
April 11, 2019: Dawn view from Moor Street station of the rotunda next to the world’s largest Primark on opening day
(Image: Graham Young / BirminghamLive)

Brain teaser

It almost could have been a quiz question for those who were in the Primark queue on Monday April 12th.

What was born on Thursday April 11, 2019 but, as he enters his third year, has not yet celebrated his first birthday?

Answer: The “World’s Largest Primark” on the High Street in Birmingham.

The original lockdown of March 23, 2020 meant he was never able to celebrate his first birthday last year when there was literally no one there.

This year, as the store’s original opening date was the last day of the third lockdown, it was closed again.

This means that it will have been closed on its birthday of April 11 for two consecutive years.

But, as the video in the window said, ready for its second coming on April 12, 2021: ‘Helloooooooo Brum’.

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