Lincoln has drastically expanded in recent years, with lots more exciting development plans in the pipeline. With plenty of prospective new retail units across the city, plus current empty premises, Lincolnshire Business spoke to a number of sought-after brands to see if the city is on their radar.
Reporters took to social media and went out onto the streets of Lincoln to ask shoppers what they felt was missing from the city’s retail offer.
Here’s what we found out from the top 20 most requested brands:
A spokesperson for arts and craft shop Hobbycraft announced they are currently looking at units for a potential store in the city.
“We are exploring opportunities and looked at locations at Lincoln. If it was to go through it wouldn’t be until next year, but we are definitely considering Lincoln,” they said.
Shoe store Schuh also confirmed that Lincoln is on the list of potential locations, however nothing has been confirmed yet.
Disappointingly for some, Lego, IKEA and John Lewis all confirmed that they have no intentions of opening a store in the city, while Krispy Kreme, Cath Kidson and Taco Bell, who opened a store in Cleethorpes in July 2016, responded but refused to disclose their plans for future stores.
An IKEA spokesperson told Lincolnshire Business: “In the ever changing, fast-paced retail environment we want to provide our customers with a more simple, convenient and enjoyable shopping experience both online and in-store.
“As such, we are reviewing our expansion strategy on an ongoing basis. This includes the rebuilding and adaptation of our stores to better serve their local customers, developing our multi-channel offer, choosing new IKEA locations and trialling new store formats.
“We are not currently considering a store in Lincolnshire.”
It was ‘mum’s the word’ for other companies requested by shoppers in Lincoln. Despite reporters making multiple attempts to speak with brand officials, there was no response from the following companies:
- Build-a-Bear Workshop
- TGI Friday’s
- Five Guys
- Urban Outfitters
- Ted Baker
- Millie’s Cookies
- Cath Kidston
What would you like to see?
Lincolnshire Business went out onto Lincoln High Street to speak to shoppers about what they felt was missing from the High Street.
Emma Ackland-Snow, 44, said the city should have more affordable clothing shops.
“I do all of my shopping here in Lincoln as there is a good selection, however they are a bit expensive and we need more affordable clothes brands.”
73-year-old Ray Blackbourn was concerned about the number of empty units at the Waterside Shopping Centre, calling it “a waste of space.”
He continued by saying: “We could do with a nice little coffee or tea room in here, not a cafe, just somewhere I can get a nice chocolate cake and a coffee.
“There are tonnes of clothes shops in the city, but we need a few less charity shops as they do a good job but put a lot of businesses out of business.”
Danny Valentine, 20, said he is very pleased with the choice of brands on offer on Lincoln High Street.
He said: “I shop at places like River Island, Topman and Office and I do most of my shopping online, however it is a little risky.”
Why all of the empty units?
According to the Local Data Company, as of July 2017 Lincoln had a 13.5% All Vacancy Rate in the city, which is almost 2.5% more than the national average (11.1%).
The study showed that there are 85 vacant units across the city.
Major units like Ruddocks and BHS, which closed in April 2017 and August 2016 respectively, are still vacant.
Lincoln BIG’s Michael Armstrong spoke to Lincolnshire Business about future plans for the empty units in the city centre.
“John Lewis is often a popular request when we look at what people would like to see in Lincoln. We spoke with John Lewis last year and they said they had no plans at that time to come to Lincoln.
“There is quite a demand for retail space in Lincoln so we don’t have that many empty spaces.
“With regards to BHS, the plan as I understand it is that the unit would be split in two, one facing the High Street and one facing St Benedicts Square.
:There’s no indication as yet of who would go in there. I know there are a couple of empty units in Waterside, but there is lots happening behind the scenes there.
“There are some retailers and restaurants lined up.”
Lincolnshire Business contacted Lincoln Waterside about future plans, however they declined to comment.
When asked why big brands should come to Lincoln, Michael replied: “Brands should be looking at Lincoln because there is so much to offer here.
“There is of course ongoing development on the Cornhill Quarter. When that’s done it will be a really sought after place.
“Of course it’s also good not to get complacent and make sure we are talking to the big boys.
“There’s a lot happening with the transport hub too, when that’s all finished, and with the 100th anniversary celebrations of the RAF next year, there will be eyes on Lincoln.”