Designer discounter TK Maxx ready to set up shop in Bishop's Stortford
Designer discounter TK Maxx is coming to Bishop's Stortford in a move set to transform Jackson Square.
As part of the plans, due to be submitted to East Herts Council this month, five new retail and restaurant units will also be incorporated into the precinct, facilitated by the closure of its Bridge Street entrance and the use of its footprint.
TK Maxx, part of the American TJX Companies Inc which has more than 4,500 outlets across the world, is ready to take on a new 1,951.8 sq m (21,009 sq ft) store in reconfigured units.
The proposals focus on premises most recently used as a free ping pong parlour and formerly occupied by Argos until the business moved to a concession in Sainsbury's in May 2018.
A spokesman for Jackson Square told the Indie: "We can confirm that planning permission will be submitted shortly to accommodate space for TK Maxx within the centre. We're looking forward to sharing more about the exciting plans in the not too distant future."
Overall, the proposals will create just 183 sq m (1,969 sq ft) of additional floor space, but Jackson Square bosses hope the reconfiguration will make a big difference to Bishop's Stortford, boosting the precinct by utilising units which have been empty for up to five years and adding new jobs.
Currently, just 14% of shoppers use the Bridge Street stairs and escalator to access the centre and it is hoped directing customers to the main Potter Street entrance instead will also increase footfall for neighbouring independent shops and businesses. The scheme also includes "public realm improvements" to enhance the street scene and a fresh facade.
TK Maxx is one of retail's success stories of the past five years, with sales up by more than 30% since 2016. At present, its closest branch for Stortford shoppers is the Water Gardens in Harlow.
The brand, which has 349 branches in the UK, has leapfrogged Topshop to become the UK's sixth-largest fashion group and since lockdown ended, all its outlets have reopened.
Its eclectic products from 21,000 global sources, range from exclusive names such as Valentino, with a Red diffusion range orange and gold blazer on offer for £199.99 – a 75% discount on its £755 recommended retail price – to its own Arabella, Addison and Amaryllis lines.
The company, whose European operation also includes Ireland, Germany, Poland, Austria and the Netherlands, buys excess stock from around the world and sells it at a discount to eager bargain hunters in-store and online.
Its range also includes cut-price food items, accessories, cosmetics and toiletries, furniture, bedding, cookware, tableware and soft furnishings from top names.
TK Maxx, known as TJ Maxx in the United States where it was founded 43 years ago in Massachusetts, also operates the Home Sense homewares chain, bringing its total of UK outlets to 427.
Its arrival in Bishop's Stortford is a coup for Jackson Square, which is owned by Legal and General and is home to over 45 stores including Next, Fat Face, Joules and New Look with Sainsbury's supermarket as its anchor.
Before the coronavirus crisis, it was estimated to attract 85,160 regular shoppers and have an annual footfall of 4.7m.
The last major change at the precinct was in 2017 when H&M moved into remodelled space freed up by the departure of Potter Street's QD stores. The units now occupied by Nando's and Mountain Warehouse were also created as part of the project.
Despite the battering retail has taken from Covid-19, the centre lost just one retailer, with the closure of Accessorise. Other traders have confirmed their confidence in the square and JSD Essex Ltd has refitted its Clarks shoe shop since lockdown lifted.