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Chocolate, music, kebabs and fashion - the changing face of Ipswich town centre

PUBLISHED: 07:30 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:50 13 November 2018

Debenhams on Westgate Street, Ipswich. The chain has warned of threats to some of its department stores. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Debenhams on Westgate Street, Ipswich. The chain has warned of threats to some of its department stores. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Following news of a possible threat to Debenhams in Ipswich, what else has been changing for shoppers? Despite high street woes, there has also been good news in the town centre.

New arrival Hotel Chocolat in Tavern Street attracted a lot of attention when it opened its doors in September, selling chocolate gifts and hampers as well as having an ice cream machine. It moved into the unit where Accessorize had previously been based. This is the luxury brand’s second store in the county, and opened its doors in good time for Christmas shopping.

Hotel Chocolat  Picture: IBCHotel Chocolat Picture: IBC

Meanwhile, as Hotel Chocolat took over its old store, popular fashion accessories chain Accessorize moved to a much larger unit in Tavern Street, the former MenKind store, allowing them to expand.

Accessorize Picture: JUDY RIMMERAccessorize Picture: JUDY RIMMER

Earlier this year, in February, HMV opened its new store in a double unit on the top floor of Sailmakers shopping centre, keeping up a presence in the town centre after moving out of its old store in Tavern Street. The music and entertainment store has had a base in the town for nearly 25 years, and is the last high street music chain operating in the town centre.

HMV Picture: JUDY RIMMERHMV Picture: JUDY RIMMER

In June, Superdrug moved from a smaller unit in Westgate Street into the former HMV store in Tavern Street, giving it much more space and allowing it to offer a wider range of products, as well as offering an Orly Nail Bar. The move also created 16 new jobs. Their previous premises in Westgate Street is currently being advertised as a property to let.

Superdrug in its new home in Tavern Street Picture: JUDY RIMMERSuperdrug in its new home in Tavern Street Picture: JUDY RIMMER

A blow to Tavern Street this year came with the closure of budget retailer Poundworld in July, after the chain went into administration nationally. The store had been operating for the last three years, and many shoppers who regularly visited to search for bargains said they would miss it. It is now standing empty and boarded up.

The former Poundworld store in Tavern Street, which is now standing empty. Picture: JUDY RIMMERThe former Poundworld store in Tavern Street, which is now standing empty. Picture: JUDY RIMMER

Another loss to the town’s “Golden Mile” which hasn’t yet been replaced is Starbucks, which moved out of one of the units in the Great White Horse, Tavern Street in September. This unit is currently standing empty.

Starbucks has moved out of its former unit in the Great White Horse Hotel Picture: JUDY RIMMERStarbucks has moved out of its former unit in the Great White Horse Hotel Picture: JUDY RIMMER

A new arrival in Westgate Street this year was German Doner Kebab, which opened in April, taking over the former Granite outdoor shop. The Only Way is Essex star Joey Essex arrived for its official launch.

German Doner Kebab has moved into the former Granite store Picture: JUDY RIMMERGerman Doner Kebab has moved into the former Granite store Picture: JUDY RIMMER

Also in Westgate Street, upmarket fashion chain Tessuti has moved into the former Next store, opening its doors in time for last Christmas. The store stocks men’s and women’s designer collections.

Tessuti opened up in the former Next shop, which had previously been standing empty Picture: JUDY RIMMERTessuti opened up in the former Next shop, which had previously been standing empty Picture: JUDY RIMMER

Another new fashion store at the other end of the town centre, in Cox Lane, just off Carr Street, is DJV Boutique, which has just opened its doors in October. It moved into a unit previously occupied by the East of England Co-op Optician, before its move to Carr Street. The store stocks a range of unusual and individual fashions and accessories.

DJV Boutique in Cox Lane, Ipswich at night. Picture: DJV BOUTIQUEDJV Boutique in Cox Lane, Ipswich at night. Picture: DJV BOUTIQUE

Another change to the town centre which happened during 2017 was the Post Office’s move from the Sailmakers shopping centre into WH Smith in Westgate Street. The former post office unit in Sailmakers is still unoccupied.

The post office has moved into WH Smith. Picture: JUDY RIMMERThe post office has moved into WH Smith. Picture: JUDY RIMMER

Other new stores which have opened their doors in Ipswich town centre during the last few years include B&M, which opened in the former Poundland store and fashion chain Jack Wills, which moved into the flagship former Croydons store in Tavern Street, both during 2016. Primark also expanded into the former Gap store, creating a much expanded store, during 2016.

Jack Wills is one of a number of stores to have moved into the town centre over the last few years. Picture: JUDY RIMMERJack Wills is one of a number of stores to have moved into the town centre over the last few years. Picture: JUDY RIMMER

A major blow to the town centre in 2016 was the closure of BHS, with the site still standing empty, although proposals for new restaurants and shops on the site won backing in 2017.

However, on the positive side, the last few years have also seen the revamp of the Buttermarket centre, with the arrival of the Empire Cinema and the opening of new restaurants and a bowling venue, as well as the move by TK Maxx to a different unit.

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