FASHION giant H&M is to open a massive new store in York, The Press can reveal.
Work is under way to extend a mezzanine floor at the former Blacks premises at Monks Cross Shopping Park in time for a spring/summer opening.
About 20 new jobs will be created at the 13,000 sq ft store.
It is another indication that big name retailers are seeing York as the ideal city in which to invest their way out of the economic downturn.
The news comes in the wake of the opening of a new Debenhams at Monks Cross last October; as well as planning clearance for supermarket giant Tesco to open a new store on the site of the former Old Orleans Bar in Low Ousegate; and determined efforts by Waitrose to open a new supermarket in Foss Islands Road.
H&M already has a branch in Spurriergate, York, and it is understood this will continue. The new store will bring to 40 the number of people it employs in the city.
Experts at H&M have eyed the possibility of moving into Monks Cross for some time, but until now there have been no units large enough.
But the 13,000 sq ft premises has become available because Blacks outdoor clothing retailer has vacated it to downsize to a slightly smaller shop a few yards away alongside the new Debenhams – a building which once housed PC World before it moved to Clifton Moor. All the staff will be moving over to the new Blacks for an opening next week.
The Evans cycle shop which was located within Blacks, has now moved to a separate home of its own next to American Golf in the nearby retail estate at Jockey Lane, Huntington.
H&M, owned by Swedish company Hennes & Mauritz, specialises in fashion and accessories for women as well as catering for men and children. It has about 2,000 stores in 35 markets and employs more than 74,000 people.
An H&M spokeswoman said that in spite of the tough economic climate, expansion in the UK and Ireland was continuing.
She said: “An H&M store should always be in the best business location and we feel that Monks Cross is a great place to expand our presence in York." Katherine Sharp, manager of the Monks Cross Shopping Park, said: “We are pleased with this latest musical chairs because everyone wins.
“It illustrates the big demand for spaces here, with some chains queuing for the rare vacancies.
“In spite of the freezing weather which affected retailers everywhere, the opening of Debenhams in October helped us to record a seven per cent increase in the number of cars visiting us over the winter.”