Is budget store B&M coming to Great Yarmouth?
RUMOUR and speculation were rife this week that Britain's fastest growing retailer B&M is set to snap up a prime out-of-town site from struggling Homebase.
The national budget powerhouse whose nearest local presence is a newly-opened store in Lowestoft has benefited from the recession growing from 20 to almost 300 stores in seven years.
Adding a branch in Great Yarmouth would extend its march across East Anglia, just as the retailer has reportedly been put up for sale for �850m.
Town centre manager Jonathan Newman said he had turned detective to unearth a series of clues which all pointed to B&M moving into Homebase in Pasteur Road or possibly the Bennetts site next to Matalan.
He said: 'It just fits. Someone suggested they were going in the Co-op but I think I would know about it.
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'They have started advertising for staff at the Jobcentres and for a deputy manager and manager at Lowestoft, possibly because those existing staff will open the new Yarmouth store.
'They already have around 300 stores so are spreading their tentacles and reaching East Anglia quite late.'
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Meanwhile, in a week of good news/bad news announcements that saw sports chain JJB go into administration, he was able to confirm, contrary to whispers locally, that River Island was staying in the town and had renewed its lease.
'Any town centre is dependent on its fashion offer,' he said.
'It is the quality of that that draws people in, which is why Gapton Hall has always been a concern.
'The worry about M&Co going and becoming a bank is that we are losing a substantial unit that now won't be available if another fashion chain is looking to come here. That is the size of shop we want.'
On the plus side however, Mr Newman understood a new retailer would be moving into Dorothy Perkins in Market Gates and that plenty of people had been in and out of the former Peacock's store - fuelling hopes the units would be filled before Christmas in time for the peak festive shopping season and January sales.