While American chicken restaurant Popeyes recently gave Queen Street a boost, the busy route between the Cornmarket and Westgate Center isn’t as prosperous as it could be.
Units of Topshop and Topman remain shuttered nearly two years after the popular fashion chain disappeared from the country’s high streets.
In February 2021, Topshop staff said they were “heartbroken” after receiving news that stores would never reopen.
In a message for all to see in the Queen Street store window, the staff wrote: “To all our lovely customers at TSTM [Topshop, Topman] Oxford.
“Thank you for all the smiles, laughter and loyalty to this store over the last five years.
“We are heartbroken to have to close our doors forever and will miss you all dearly.
“Stay safe, keep smiling and support your local high street.
“Much love TSTM Oxford.”
At the time, ASOS confirmed that it had sealed the acquisition of Topshop and three other brands from the collapsing Arcadia retail empire for £265m.
The online fashion retailer was buying Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT.
Directors of Sir Philip Green’s retail group said Asos has paid an additional £65m for current and reserved shares.
ASOS told investors it will hire around 300 employees as part of the deal, which will not include any of the brands’ stores.
Arcadia collapsed into insolvency after pandemic lockdowns further exacerbated the group’s problems.
Now there is nothing to see in the once-occupied units, apart from the signs on the windows and homeless people using the doors to ask for spare change.
Oxford City Council does not own the property and it is not known if there is any possibility of another retailer moving in.
Spokesman Tony Ecclestone said: “The city council does not control this property so it is not ours to trade.”
Hotelier Jeremy Mogford, who opposes plans for six new bus gates in the city, said earlier this month that in his opinion the reopening of the Westgate Center in 2017 had damaged other downtown streets that were once crowded.
He said: “We are currently witnessing the catastrophic effect that (the Westgate) has had on the original and traditional shopping streets in the historic center of Oxford.
“Virtually all the brand stores have moved to the new Westgate, leaving Cornmarket, Queen Street, Clarendon Centre, Covered Market, Broad Street, St Aldate’s, High Street, along with many of the smaller connected streets virtually abandoned and a shadow of what they were before, devoid of quality purchases with many empty units.
Construction work has begun on a new scheme at the Clarendon Center.
The focus is no longer just retail.
In April, the council approved plans to partially demolish the center to provide more student accommodation.
In addition to student accommodation, Clarendon’s transformation is expected to include new retail and office buildings, with a new public square and pedestrian and cycle access to Frewin Court.
This story was written by andy frenchjoined the team over 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.
Contact him via email: [email protected]
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