New store openings forging future of Ilford town centre

Ilford town centre manager Neil Davis is “over the moon” in the wake of the opening of two new shops in the past fortnight.

Clothes and home retail giant Primark, and disused department store Harrison Gibson in High Road, Ilford, opened last week.

Mr Davis, who is responsible for the regeneration of Ilford town centre spoke of his joy at the openings, which he is confident will play their part in forging a new look town centre.

“We first heard rumours of Primark wanting to open here a year ago. The opening was jaw-dropping. The effect it has had on the town centre is amazing, there is even more of a buzz than ever,” he added.

But Primark was not alone in opening its doors last week, as Ilford landmark Harrison Gibson re-opened after the last traders moved out in April 2010, three years after the department store ceased trading in 2007.

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The building had been costing �200,000 a year to keep closed with security costs, so a super-99p retailer which sells home products for under �10 is now in the nine-floor building.

Although the retailer’s contract is temporary, Mr Davis said he would like to see a more permanent department store take the prime spot in the High Road.

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“It’s not ideal, we would like to have a permanent retailer there, for example like Primark, which is popular with all ages and will attract shoppers.”

Primark opened its doors on Wednesday in front of a crowd of almost 200.

The 220-store chain had been looking for a prime spot to open in Ilford for years, its area manager Simon Gibb told the Recorder shortly after the ribbon cutting.

German shoe shop giant Diechmann is also due to open a new shop in The Exchange, Ilford, on Wednesday. The chain has 2939 stores in 21 countries.

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