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Department store boss on his £30million plan for Colchester shop
A LEADING retailer has revealed his ambitions to bring the best of London shopping to Colchester.
Hugo Fenwick, director of Fenwick, has revealed his plans for a £30million investment in High Street store Williams and Griffin.
Mr Fenwick said he hoped the cash would rejuvenate the town centre and provide a quality of shopping only found in London.
He said: “The number of retailers on the High Street is somewhat disappointing.
“Department stores, at their best, can be the heart of a town centre community.
“Once the store is redeveloped, it will give a wonderful opportunity to further improve the range of High Street stores.
“It will ensure Colchester remains pre-eminent in the region and the customers we have in Colchester will not need to go to London.
“The vast majority of brands available in London will be here.”
His firm bought the award-winning store four years ago and has made plans up to 2060.
Mr Fenwick said: “When we first bought the store our first approach was not to do anything immediately. We gradually adjusted our merchandise mix to bring in more brands and our business is up by a quarter.
“We think there is a great opportunity to take the next step.”
The redevelopment work will see the store’s retail space increase from 55,000 sq ft to 85,000 sq ft across four floors.
Changes will include moving the escalators, creating an atrium, improving the restaurant and providing a better connection with the NCP car park behind the store.
Plans have been drawn up for a dramatic new shop front with a stone and glass facade and the two principal entrance doors framed in bronze.
Mr Fenwick acknowledged the design may not win favour across the board.
He said: “Naturally, it will have an element of controversy but we have to make a statement from the outset. If we are going to invest this sort of money we have to have a presence with a strong frontage on the High Street.
“We will retain and renovate the Tudor building and incorporate it into the store.
“But we strongly feel we need a contemporary facade to provide coherence for the store.
“We believe we understand the rhythm of the High Street. We have created a handsome design.
“We think, following long discussions with the planners at Colchester Council, we have come up with a scheme which reflects a department store which is modern and for the 21st century while at the same time respecting the heritage of the High Street.
“I think it will give great presence and will be the beginning of a great shopping experience.
“We are creating a department store, the design of which will be in place for 50 years.”
Plans will be submitted next year and the first phase of the work completed by summer of 2014. The whole project to be finished by 2015.