Langleys, Norwich's oldest Royal Arcade store, to open in Chapelfield
PUBLISHED: 11:20 18 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:49 18 July 2019
Langleys toy shop is opening a new store in the Chapelfield shopping centre in another blow for the Royal Arcade.
The store will open in "late summer or early autumn" and bosses are promising offers to rival deals available on the internet.
But the move - bucking the trend of retailers closing high street shops in favour of launching online-only businesses - appears to be a bitter blow for the famous Royal Arcade.
Langleys is one of the oldest toy shops in the UK opening in Norwich nearly 140 years ago.
Owner Steve Scott said he would be remaining in the landmark Victorian arcade, currently half empty, for "at least another year". He has asked arcade owners Legal & General for a rent reduction but so far the insurance giant won't budge.
"I want a foot in both Chapelfield and the Royal Arcade and I think Langleys can trade successfully in both but the landlords of the arcade have got to show that the arcade can become a viable business."
On his new store, Mr Scott could not yet divulge exactly where in Chapelfield it will be but it will be a single, one-storey unit and the key will be "aggressive pricing".
"The footfall is a lot higher in Chapelfield so I aim to be competitive on price. It bucks the trend towards internet expansion and this flagship shop will be a blend of the traditional values for which Langleys has been known for more than 125 years, and regularly-changing special offers providing pricing that would compete favourably with the internet.
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"Langleys in the Royal Arcade will continue to trade for at least another year."
Last month Mr Scott told this newspaper he had developed a plan for a new store after Legal & General ignored his pleas for a substantial rent drop and because footfall was declining in the arcade after so many units had pulled out.
Langleys, which was opened in Norwich in 1883 on Prince of Wales Road by James Langley, moved into the arcade in 1925 and has been its longest serving tenant. But with rents on some of the large units, like the one formerly occupied by Jamie's, totalling as much as £150,000 and business rates and service charge on top, it's considered unsustainable for many businesses.
The pressure is on the Legal & General and the city council to look at ways of keeping the existing retailers and filling the empty units to stop the arcade going into total meltdown.