Retail Comings and Goings in Tameside, April 2018: The Ashton Review of Shops

April’s window on the shop windows

Hyde, Ashton-Under-Lyne and Oldham
In about ten years time from Smabs Sputzer’s [2012] image, this scene will change dramatically. Since then, the TAC building has been demolished with its replacement due to be finished by the end of this year. Plus you can see Ashton’s IKEA store from the International Space Station.
  • Mettricks to leave Stalybridge;
  • State of local economy inspires aspirant councillors;
  • Claire’s Accessories, Bargain Booze and Select Fashion in trouble;
  • Prince of Orange’s transformation completed;
  • All the usual comings and goings in the Tameside area.

We hope you have had a Happy Easter. Hopefully, whilst you are reading this, you would have polished off your chocolate eggs, ate the last slice of Simnel Cake, or seen the Manchester Derby fixture.

Mettricks to leave Stalybridge

J.W. Mettrick and Sons, the local butchers chain, are about to leave their Melbourne Street premises. The shop in Stalybridge opened in 2014 amid great fanfare. One consolation Mettricks’ vacation comes with strings attached: the next tenant should be another butchery business.

Though we hope a successor can be found, this is a body blow following the loss of Lloyd’s Chemist and the Yorkshire Building Society in the last quarter. On a happier note, Cancer Warriors have taken on the former Chicken Barbecue unit on Melbourne Street. They aim to use the unit as a support centre for people with cancer or affected families.

Filed under The Changing Face of Stalybridge, Summers Quay is taking shape. The mixed-use development has been dogged by controversy from the start. That and other developments in the town could be a game changer in this year’s Local Elections.

Taking back control of Stalybridge?

In less than a month’s time will be England’s Local Elections. Instead of Brexit and other nationwide issues we turn to the bins and libraries. This year, the changing face of Stalybridge has inspired four candidates to “take back control” of the “beautiful town with a new canal”.

First off the blocks is Liam Billington. He has previously stood as a Conservative Party candidate for the Ashton Hurst ward. This time he has turned his guns to Tameside’s true blue enclave: Stalybridge South. He has come up with one policy bound to unite most ‘Bridgeites. The reopening of Victoria Market Hall as a general retail market.

In the last week, we have learned that all three Stalybridge wards will have independent candidates. Under the banner of the Stalybridge Town Party, they have billed themselves as an alternative to the usual parties. Candidates for the Dukinfield/Stalybridge, Stalybridge North, and Stalybridge South wards are Dave Tate, Lee Stafford, and Jennifer Brayne. So far, there has been great support from the town’s retailers.

We await the results with great interest. There may be further details on East of the M60 in a separate article, or as part of a series of posts beyond the remit of The Ashton Review of Shops.

Stormy weather for nationwide chains

Though not exclusive to the Tameside area, a number of nationwide retail chains could be shedding stores. Select Fashion, whose branches include the former Burton store in Ashton-under-Lyne, are voting on a possible CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement) on the 13 April. Nearly 2,000 jobs are at stake across the UK.

Affecting their popular branch in the Arcades Shopping Centre is Claire’s Accessories’ impending bankruptcy. Its US subsidiary has already shed stores but, as far as we know, their UK stores are operating as normal. Upstairs in the same shopping centre, the same troubles have affected New Look. Their latest restructuring will see the closure of their New Look Mens stores as well as some unprofitable New Look stores.

In Greater Manchester, this affects the Mens stores in Bolton and Wigan. Closer to home, Stockport will be losing its New Look in Merseyway Shopping Centre. For the time being, business as usual for the busy Ashton branch.

Likely to have a fundamental effect on Tameside’s shoppers is the fortunes of Conviviality’s Bargain Booze chain. Besides owning off-licences they expanded rapidly in the supply of wines and spirits, with J.D. Wetherspoon among their clients. On the 05 April, Dublin-based cider company C&C purchased Conviviality’s distribution division.

So far, the Bargain Booze chain lies in the balance. Parts of it could be sold to independent traders who have bought into the Bargain Booze franchise terms. Perhaps TESCO or Sainsburys might step in, though this wouldn’t be good for competition. Why is this important? Among Bargain Booze’s portfolio is a number of sub-Post Offices. Which, in the Tameside area includes the Oxford Road Post Office (inside a Bargain Booze Select shop on Concord Way, Dukinfield).

Forthcoming Planning Applications

A bit busier this time (that’s more like it).

Polite Note: for reasons of brevity, any pub and club applications come under the Pub and Club Update section. You know the drill, and ALDI have got one for a tenner.

  • The B&Q Warehouse unit on Snipe Retail Park, Ashton-under-Lyne, could be given a fresh new look.
  • Fried chicken lovers will be delighted to see the return of Allen’s Fried Chicken on 29 Old Street, Ashton-under-Lyne. In the last year, fire damage has closed the popular takeaway outlet.
  • The Penny Meadow Pharmacy on 61 Penny Meadow (again in Ashton-under-Lyne of course) could see a single storey extension at the rear of its unit.
  • The Dress Up and Party showrooms in Hyde could be demolished. In its place may be six one bedroom flats. Until 1967 (when they moved to The Mall), this was Hyde’s first ever branch of TESCO, inherited from the grocery chain’s purchase of Adsega’s shops in the North West of England.
  • Morrisons’ Dukinfield store could be getting a new entrance. Since its 1994 refurbishment, the store has had two entrances, facing Sandy Lane and Foundry Street. It is proposed that the unsightly former café gable will become the store’s only entrance with two sets of double doors. Under their Fresh Look programme, further changes will see the retention of one covered trolley park. There will also be a permanent Garden Centre and a Timpson’s key cutting shop. Cash Machines will move to the clock tower end of the store.

Retail Movements

  • Argos have settled into their new home within Sainsburys’ Ashton Moss store. If you fancy calling in on Sunday, don’t bother: it is closed on Sundays. Argos Extra on Snipe Retail Park and Argos’ Hyde branch are still open on Sundays, from 10am to 4pm.
  • There seems to be some action in the former Poundstretcher unit on Manchester Road Retail Park in Hyde. Who could be the lucky tenant?
  • As mentioned earlier, Yorkshire Building Society have left their unit on Melbourne Street, Stalybridge. The M&S Outlet is due to close on the 21 April, so hurry down to Crown Point North for some last minute bargains!
  • It gives us great pleasure to announce that Dukinfield has a third Post Office. This time on Yew Tree Lane within Neha Stores. The latest addition to the Post Office network is only a few doors down from the previous one that closed in 2007 (today’s A&M Newsagents). It opened its doors at the end of February this year (so we apologise for the late announcement).
  • Smart Bargains will be moving to a larger unit on Melbourne Street, Stalybridge. They will be taking on the former Fairy Sparkle unit at the bottom end of the street. This will give them more storage space than the present unit, situated at the top end of the same street.
  • Armentieres Square will be seeing a new chippy. Work is under way on The Fish and Chip Shop, which is perfectly placed for the main shopping centre and nearby hostelries.

Pub and club update

Not long after March 2018’s Ashton Review of ShopsThe Prince of Orange reopened in great style. Instead of being everyone’s favourite local for the strains of Penny Arcade, its focus is on beer and bagels. Today’s drinkers have the joy of eight real ales to choose from, as well as an array of esoteric bagels. The pub has been dramatically refurbished on the inside and outside but we at East of the M60 Towers have yet to pop in.

On the other hand, we did call in to Tapsters for a crafty pint. Owned by the same people as The Bowling Green it is different to your usual micro pub. Inside it is sleek, an ambience akin to a street corner boozer with wine bar finesse. There are three cask conditioned ales with the Theakston Vanilla Stout quaffable in thirty minutes. Though there was no food (the cook was poorly), we were able to bring our own butties. One of Williams’ cheese salad sandwiches on a salt and pepper tiger bread baguette fitted the bill.

The Strawberry Gardens on 70 Moorside Street, Droylsden (between the town centre and Littlemoss) could be extended. Also in Droylsden (by the time you have read this), The Silly Country should be up and running. So far we have seen photographs of its interior fit out on their Twitter feed. Ashton Taphouse should be serving its first customers by the start of next month.

*                     *                    *

Next Month:

Could Stalybridge’s independent candidates cause a stir on the 04 May? Will Select Fashion be safe? Tune in to our latest episode on the 05 May 2018, 9am sharp.

S.V., 07 April 2018.

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