Hull council boss speaks out on 'Home Bargains moving into Marks and Spencer'
Marks and Spencer in Whitefriargate, Hull city centre
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 10 May 2019
Seven days since its emotional closure, the future of Hull's iconic Marks and Spencer store in Whitefriargate continues to be the topic of much speculation.
The flagship department store was one of 17 shut down as part of the firm's restructuring plans leading to fears about what the future would hold for the huge unit at the heart of the city's Old Town.
M&S was a fixture of Hull's shopping scene for more than a century and talk quickly turned to who would move in.
Speculation has been mounting online about potential new suitors for the empty shop with rumours swirling that Home Bargains, which already has stores in Hessle Road, Holderness Road and at Kingston Retail Park, could be set to move in.
However, Hull City Council's deputy leader Daren Hale, who is also a ward councillor for the area which takes in the city centre, has put the rumours to bed - but admits the retailer could be about to move elsewhere in the city.
"All I can say is it is not going to be a Home Bargains," he said. "I do know that they're not the people who are moving in.
"I do know they are moving in but it isn't that. They are coming to another development but that is all I can say about that at the moment.
"M&S has said they are looking for a retailer to go into their site but the size of it is something to consider.
"Our aim is to work with shop owners to remodel shop sizes to make them more attractive. If they were back to their old footprints then we know there's a market for them."
Marks and Spencer owns the building, which is located at 40, Whitefriargate and is continuing to look for a buyer to move in. The firm told Hull Live last week that it is hoping to be able to issue an update soon.
However Hull City Council's city manager for major projects and infrastructure Garry Taylor, told the BBC last Monday that he believed the site had already been sold.
Mr Taylor also revealed the authority was in talks with M&S over the possibility of moving into the new Albion Square development.
He said: "The existing M&S is sold to, I believe, another retailer. They've sold it. It was part of their national disposal strategy and it, unfortunately, was one of the few they could sell, in terms of their smaller stores that don't meet their current format.
"As we've said before, we are in negotiations with Marks and Spencer and we would like to land them on the Albion Square scheme but if not we're looking at other localities."