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Colchester store's £30 million refurbishment
9:10pm Friday 8th June 2012 in News
Williams and Griffin is to undergo a £30million refurbishment.
The proposals, if agreed, would see the Colchester High Street store’s shopping space increase by more than a third from 60,000sq ft to 85,000sq ft, creating 25 jobs in the process.
Long-awaited plans are set to be unveiled to the public for the First time next week.
Bosses insisted the essence of Williams and Griffin, a well-known name in the town since the 19th century, would be protected and enhanced.
Fenwick bought the High Street store in 2008 and has since managed to increase trade by 25 per cent Under the plans, the existing Victorian and Tudor buildings will be retained and efforts taken to restore them to their former glory.
The two 20th-century buildings in the High Street will be altered, which directors hope will provide a better appearance.
Hugo Fenwick, group trading director, said: “Williams and Griffin has always had a deserved reputation as the leading department store in Colchester.
“This significant investment reflects our long-term commitment to further develop the quality of the store through improving both the shopping experience and the range of brands and fashion collections on offer.
“It will secure Colchester’s pre-eminence as the premium shopping destination in the region and act as a catalyst for the regeneration of Colchester High Street as a whole.”
Under the proposals, the store’s mezzanine floors will be removed, with sales instead being spread across the main four floors.
Lorraine Barnett, sales and marketing director, said this should make the shop more accessible to the disabled and parents with buggies.
She added: “We hope the redesign will make it easier for customers to find what they are looking for.
“We will not lose any departments, but they may be on a different floor.”
It is hoped plans will be submitted next year with the first phase of work completed by summer 2014. The whole project is scheduled for completion by 2015.
The store will stay open throughout the work and a spokesman said every effort will be taken to keep disruption to a minimum.
A temporary building is set to be put on the neighbouring Town Hall car park to allow departments to be relocated while the works are going on.
The spokesman said: “This is a great department store and with improvements, it can be even better.
“It will negate the need for an out-of-town store and keep shoppers in the town centre, which will support other businesses.”
l An exhibition will be staged on the top floor of the store next Thursday, from 9am to 5.30pm. On June 15 and 16, a display of the plans will be on show at the Firstsite gallery, between 11am and 4pm.