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East Anglia Future 50

It's official - Ipswich is to get a new luxury fashion store

PUBLISHED: 15:32 11 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:13 11 February 2019

Could this be these empty shops in the Buttermarket be the site of a new fashion store? Picture: Jessica Hill

Could this be these empty shops in the Buttermarket be the site of a new fashion store? Picture: Jessica Hill

Archant

Despite the retail slump, an upmarket clothing brand is opening a new store in Ipswich.

Could this be the site of the new fashion store, in the Buttermarket? Picture: Jessica HillCould this be the site of the new fashion store, in the Buttermarket? Picture: Jessica Hill

After much speculation, Flannels, which is majority-owned by the retail tycoon Mike Ashley, has confirmed that it is opening a new store in Ipswich’s Buttermarket Shopping Centre.

Although it will not at this point reveal where exactly the new shop will be in the Buttermarket, or when it will open, it is most likely that Flannels will be moving into either or both of the empty shop premises located by the main entrance at the north end.

Although the retail sector has been in decline lately, Mr Ashley, who is the founder of Sports Direct and owns Newcastle United Football Club, believes in the ability of the market to recover, and has been busy snapping up stakes in a number of retail chains – from House of Fraser and Evans Cycles, to Sofa.com and Debenhams.

Mr Ashley acquired a majority stake in the Manchester-based luxury and designer fashion chain Flannels in 2012, and upped his stake to more than 75% in 2017.

Flannels in Swindon. Picture: Google MapsFlannels in Swindon. Picture: Google Maps

While other retailers have been busy closing down their stores of late, Flannels is bucking the trend by opening new stores. It has gone from 13 stores in 2017, to more than 35 stores nationwide now.

An ad appeared two weeks ago on LinkedIn for a store manager position for a new Flannels store opening in Ipswich.

The Flannels ad states: “With a portfolio of over 200 brands, our stores carry a refined selection of the season’s most inspiring and sought-after collections ... our brand portfolio includes the likes of Gucci, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Stone Island and Moncler, and our rapid growth has seen us open stores in many of the UK’s major cities from Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds to Birmingham and Cardiff.

“Flannels will open the doors of its new UK flagship on Oxford Street, London in 2019; situated below the brand’s state-of-the-art 300-person office.”

It will be a welcome boost for Ipswich town centre after a new year which has seen a number of shop closures.

The Ipswich tReds store was the latest to be put into administration due to “challenges” in the retail sector. HMV and Patisserie Valerie have both recently gone into administration and Peacocks is in a wrangle with its landlords and threatening to also leave the town centre, while sandwich giant Pret, which was expected to open this spring, has pulled the plug on its Ipswich store.

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