A retail chain has confirmed its interest in opening a store in South Shields.
Department company Boyes, which has 57 stores across the country – mainly in the north of England – has refused to ruled out a move to the town.
South Shields is somewhere we would like to open a store, and if the opportunity does arise, we would welcome itRobert van der Heijden
It follows some suggestions that Boyes may have been ready to move into the former Marks and Spencer premises in King Street.
While Boyes insist that “no agreement” is in place, the company has admitted it would like to secure premises in the town.
Robert van der Heijden, marketing director of Boyes, said: “We haven’t got an agreement in place to move to South Shields at this present time.
“There are no immediate plans to open a store in South Shields.
“However, South Shields is somewhere we would like to open a store, and if the opportunity does arise, we would welcome it.
“We have got quite a few stores in the North East, and South Shields is definitely a place of interest to us.
“We would certainly look at it if premises in South Shields became available.
“At the moment, as said, there is nothing in place, but we will wait and see.”
The interest of Boyes in moving to South Shields comes after a councillor called on landlords to reduce rental rates for businesses in the town.
Lee Hughes, the Putting People First representative for the Bede ward in South Shields, said it was little wonder the area’s trade is dying because investors can’t afford the rents being asked for prime town centre locations.
He has welcomed Boyes’ interest in the town, and feels a reduction in fees could play a pivotal part in convincing them and other businesses to open stores in the town.
Mr Hughes said: “It’s a start and has to be seen as a positive, and hopefully it will come to something.
“The potential is that if one company like that does move into South Shields, others might follow.
“Hopefully if the rental rates are brought down a bit, Boyes and other companies may start seeing South Shields as a more viable prospect, and the town centre could be revived.
“The more open shops that there are, the more interest there will be in the town.”
Boyes was formed in 1881, and now has over 50 stores nationwide.
The first store opened was in Scarborough, and the company remains mainly based in the north of England, with premises in Yorkshire, the North East, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.
On its website, Boyes says “good value is a combination of quality and price”, and it aims to provide quality goods at knock-down prices.
It sells over 30,000 different items, and according to its website, serves 250,000 customers every week across its 57 stores.
Among the products it offers are clothing, toys, stationery, babywear, toiletries, housewares, DIY, fishing tackle, footwear, soft furnishings, wool, haberdashery, confectionery and pet products.
Some of their larger stores, meanwhile, have a carpet and furniture department, as well as a cafe.
In the North East, Boyes has stores at Barnard Castle, Billingham, Bishop Auckland, Blaydon, Chester-le-Street, Consett, Darlington, Guisborough, Middlesbrough, Newton Aycliffe, Redcar, Stockton and Yarm.
Now it hopes to secure premises in South Shields as it looks to further strengthen its links in Tyne and Wear.
The company remains based in Scarborough, with all stores located within a 150-mile radius of its base there.