Fresh blow to Coney Street as international retailer pulls out

Is the clock ticking on Coney Street's retailing future? Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
5 Nov 2017 @ 4.43 pm
| Business, Shopping

An international shopping chain has scrapped its plans to open in York, in a fresh blow to the city’s retail sector.

Kiko Milano was looking to move into the old Wallis shop in Coney Street, but its planning application has been withdrawn.

The decision has led to a call for a new city centre action group to be established.

In an email to City of York Council, the firm’s agent, GAD Design, said: “We have been informed by our client that the project has been cancelled.”

Kiko Milano is an Italian beauty retailer, with more than a thousand stores in 20 countries – but it isn’t going to add one on Coney Street.

YorkMix contacted the agent earlier this week seeking more explanation, but has not yet had a response.

Decision ‘a shame’

The former Wallis shop on Coney Street, now boarded up. Photographs: Gavin Aitchison

The Wallis site is one of several empty stores in Coney Street. Burgins perfumery closed in July after 137 years, Curry’s has also closed, and the year-old signs on the former BHS site, promising new shops in 2017, look increasingly optimistic.

Phil Pinder, chairman of York Retail Forum, said York had an unusually high number of large empty shops through no fault of its own.

“Sadly a lot of national retailers have put plans on hold due to the state of the economy,” he said.

“We are trying to combat this, but it’s a shame someone has pulled out.”

BHS site interest

The empty Wallis shop is next door to the old BHS

He said a large national chain had expressed interest in the BHS site and also revealed there were plans to roll out the Blank Canvas project, which makes empty shops available to artists as studios.

Mr Pinder said the project was successful in Liverpool, and it was tried on a small scale in York in 2015.

He said a date had now been set for the first ‘Dragon’s Den’ business breakfast. The idea, first revealed in September, will enable entrepreneurs to pitch their idea for a new shop in York, and secure funding support from among an audience of 100.

The first event will be on March 16 next year, at Bettys, said Mr Pinder. Anyone interested should email the York Retail Forum here.

Shopping action group

Closed: Burgins Perfumery

Long-serving councillor Janet Looker, whose city-centre seat includes Coney Street, told YorkMix that she thought a new action group should be set up to look at ways to revitalise the city centre.

She said:

Coney Street has flourished through a lot of ups and downs before, but it is York’s real flagship street and it is important that we look to see what we can do.

I think it would be helpful if we pulled together a group, including councillors but also with Make It York and retailers.

She said York could expect another strong Christmas season, but said that beyond that the city should do more to support pop-up businesses.

She said: “If we cannot get a permanent occupant somewhere, maybe we could do more to keep shops open on a pop-up basis while we wait.”