A GLOBAL clothing chain is sizing up a move to Hartlepool.
Swedish multinational retail-clothing company H&M has confirmed it wants to open a store in the town and a prime site could be the soon-to-close Marks and Spencer store.
The Middleton Grange Shopping Centre unit is currently occupied by Marks and Spencer store but it will be moving to Anchor Retail Park, off Marina Way, near to where Next and Matalan are based, some time this year.
H&M – which held a catwalk show in Paris on Wednesday with its threads being modelled by Kendall Jenner, who is part of the Kardashian empire – is keeping tight-lipped over where it would want to set up shop in the town but admit Hartlepool is “of interest”.
A H&M spokeswoman said: “Opening a store in Hartlepool is of interest to us at H&M and finding the perfect location is extremely important.
“Our stores should always be in the best locations for business, including the most desirable high streets and shopping centres.”
The clothing giant’s potential move to Hartlepool has been welcomed by Iain Wright, MP for Hartlepool, who said it would be a major boost to Hartlepool’s economy.
He said: “Marks and Spencer moving out of Middleton Grange Shopping Centre after 40 years was a symbolic blow for the shopping centre, but the fact that there could be a possibility of another flagship store moving into that site relatively quickly is a good positive sign and it’s important that the shopping centre is vibrant, it provides jobs, and and facilities for people in the town.
“Making sure we have a wider range of shops makes it more and more attractive.”
He added: “You could see Marks and Spencers over the course of the last few years just building up their food presence and moving more and more clothes out of that big shop.”
Opening a store in Hartlepool is of interest to us at H&M.A spokeswoman for H&M
Pamela Hargreaves, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses in Hartlepool, said: “Any new business moving into Hartlepool is a positive thing.
“Especially in terms of job creation, and boost to the local economy.
“If the speculation is right then it’s absolutely great for Middleton Grange Shopping Centre and the town.
“It will increase footfall and will give people another reason to go into the shopping centre.
“Certainly in terms of competition from the retail parks on the outskirts of town, then that’s a great positive thing for Middleton Grange that they have been able to attract such a big name.
“The extra footfall will also have a knock on effect for other small businesses in the likes of York Road, and also the indoor market.
“Also, if people feel like there is more in the shopping centre, they will shop more in Hartlepool.”
She added: “This can only be a good thing.”
Marks and Spencer announced it was to close in July last year, and said there would be no job losses as a result of its relocation which would see if offer a much bigger M&S food selection and a new 50-seat M&S Café.