Colchester clothing store in shock closure

Peacocks clothing store in Colchester is to close

Peacocks clothing store in Colchester is to close - Credit: Archant

Peacocks clothing store closure is the latest blow for hard-hit Colchester town centre.

Blow for Colchester as the Peacocks store is to close in July

Blow for Colchester as the Peacocks store is to close in July - Credit: Archant

Peacocks clothing store in Colchester has announced that it is closing down on July 12.

But it’s not the only retailer to suffer the same fate in Colchester’s Priory Walk area, where eight units now stand empty.

In 2013, the movement of Colchester bus station from Queen Street to Osborne Street significantly cut passing trade to the area.

Then the former Sale Shop store on nearby Long Wyre Street shut its doors for the last time in 2014 and a host of other stores nearby have followed suit, including Compucchino Internet Café and Superdrug in 2015.

Troubles fo the town centre. Empty shop at the corner of Priory Walk, Colchester

Troubles fo the town centre. Empty shop at the corner of Priory Walk, Colchester - Credit: Archant

The high street has been battered by bad news this year, after a dire Christmas that saw profits plunge. Elsewhere in Colchester, Goldsmiths jewelers on Shewell Walk have just announced that they’re also closing in next month.

A sales assistant in Peacocks said: “Its so sad, but our sales have been dropping. Lots of shops around here are suffering the same fate - this part of town is really struggling.”

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One shopper, Emma Burrows, 46, of Wivenhoe, said she thought that Peacocks had seemed quieter ever since rival budget clothing retailer Primark opened last year in the former home of BHS on Culver Street East. “I used to go to Peacocks all the time, but since Primark opened I find myself buying most of my clothes there instead,” she added.

Competition is also gearing up nationally between budget retailers as Poundland has also entered the fashion market. Clothing by the brand Pep&Co has been added to more than 300 stores, including the Poundland store in Turner Rise, Colchester.

Goldsmiths in Shewell Walk, Colchester

Goldsmiths in Shewell Walk, Colchester - Credit: Archant

But the closure of Peacocks’ Priory Walk store doesn’t appear to be the result of poor national profits for Peacocks’ owners Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which also counts Austin Reed, Jane Norman, Jaeger and Country Casuals in its portfolio.

The company’s sales topped £592m and generated profits of nearly £84m in the year to February 2017, and Peacocks is launching several new stores across the UK this year, including one in Crosby.

Although Peacocks’ head office didn’t respond to requests for comment, staff at their Priory Walk store are blaming the Colchester store’s problems on its location, saying: “We are just not getting the footfall in this area.”

It is feared that proposals for an out of town shopping centre at Tollgate Village in Stanway, with 21,200 sq m of retail floorspace, will spell more bad news for Colchester’s town centre retailers.

A Peacocks employee said she’s heard a “rumour” that Peacocks will be opening up a new store in Tollgate Village when that opens.

“If I’m given the choice, of course I’d rather shop at a retail park where the parking is free,” said Nicky Mortimer, 38, of New Town. “It’s very sad for the town centre though. I remember buying my maternity clothes at Peacocks, and now my daughter is turning 12. Peacocks has been an important part of Colchester town centre for many years and it will be missed.”

The nearest Peacocks store to Colchester will be the one on West Avenue in Clacton and one on Carr Street in Ipswich.

Major investment on the way

Although recent times have been hard for the dilapidated Priory Walk area of Colchester, its future now looks brighter, thanks to the £30 million ‘food and drink-led quarter’, which is replacing the old bus station and former Keddies department store across the road on Queen’s Street.

The development features Curzon cinema in Roman House which will open its doors on Friday 6 July, boasting three screens, two cafes, a rooftop terrace and a total capacity of 300 seats. The cinema will be showing “the best of quality mainstream including family films, independent gems and events,” according to its website.

Next year, Travelodge is set to open an 87-bed hotel in the former Keddies building in Queen Street.

And over on the corner of Long Wyre Street and Culver Street East, The East of England Co-op has planning permission to restore the former Sale Shop building, with five restaurants, two retail units and 24 flats.