A Northampton business leader has said the departure of House of Fraser from the town will be “very sad” - but insisted the commitment of two existing stores to expansion in the town is a positive development.
Sue Roberts was speaking after yesterday’s announcement that the flagship department store will leave the Grosvenor Centre in March 2014, and be replaced by branches of Primark and Next.
Mrs Roberts, who is chairman of the Northampton Business Improvement District (BID) , said: “It’s positive in that we have two of our existing stores expanding and committing to the Grosvenor Centre.
“That style of store is looking towards the university coming into the town, and they are looking to get established for that.
“At the same time, I’m very sad to see House of Fraser go. It’s a quality brand and the announcement was as much of a surprise to us as it was to everybody else.
“I think we will lose some of our shoppers, who specifically want the brands in House of Fraser.
“But I think it will increase footfall in the Grosvenor Centre and it will benefit businesses already in there.”
The business leader also said the loss of House of Fraser could be an opportunity for Debenhams to improve their store in The Drapery.
She said: “It is an opportunity for them to turn their branch into a flagship store, next to the new bus station.
“The store has been looking a little bit tired.”
The development will leave a further two stores in the town centre empty, but Mrs Roberts said she didn’t think this would be the case for long.
She said: “Primark is quite prominent, and I don’t think it will be terribly difficult to bring someone in with all the exciting things happening in the town centre.”