B&M confirms plans to expand South Shields store - by knocking through into empty Debenhams unit
Bargain retailer B&M has confirmed it is working on plans to expand its South Shields store.
The popular shop moved to its current base in Waterloo Square in 2018, taking over the previous home of doomed chain BHS.
And it now looks set to take advantage of the collapse of another former high street giant, with proposals to extend operations into the now-shuttered Debenhams next door.
Contacted about the move, a spokesperson for B&M confirmed its intention to take over the disused unit.
However, as yet it remains tight-lipped on further details, with more information expected in the coming months.
As yet, no applications for amended licensing or planning permission have been submitted to South Tyneside Council.
Almost exactly a year ago in April 2020, Debenhams confirmed its South Shields store, which at the time was closed due to the first national coronavirus lockdown, would not reopen once restrictions eased.
The firm’s decision to file for administration initially saw its Waterloo Square outlet among seven identified for closure, leading to more than 470 job losses across the UK.
In January 2021, online clothes seller Boohoo bought Debenhams for £55million, in a deal which saw the chain’s remaining 118 stores earmarked for closure.
B&M moved into its current site in 2018, three years after it had been abandoned by BHS, during the department store’s own financial troubles.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck praised the news, but also called for a re-think of the town’s ongoing regeneration.
She said: “I welcome news that the unit will no longer be vacant, but we need some bold vision and action for our town centre.”
News of the store expanding comes after a steady trickle of more gloomy news for South Shields town centre.
Recent years have seen a number of major retail chains pull out of King Street, with recent losses including WH Smith in autumn 2020.
There have been calls to diversify the town centre, with more residential space and other uses.