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Next bid to return to Dumfries

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Next bid to return to Dumfries

HIGH Street giant NEXT is trying again to persuade Dumfries and Galloway Council to allow them to open a store at Cuckoo Bridge.

The fashion and homewares chain want to move into unit four, but current occupancy conditions mean it can only be used for the sale of bulky goods.

However, the retailer believes their presence there would boost the town as a whole with a £2m investment promised, as well as 35 new jobs.

The company has submitted a 285 page planning and retail statement to Dumfries and Galloway Council arguing their case.

They point out the current condition on the units at Cuckoo Bridge are ‘restrictive’ and that variations have been given to the existing B&M store and The Food Warehouse, saying: “It is noteworthy that the Council has been willing to grant variations to condition nine at Cuckoo Bridge, in circumstances where it has been demonstrated there are not suitable alternative locations for the occupier proposed, that there is no demonstrable threat of harm to the viability and vitality of Dumfries town centre, and there is up to date retail study evidence that demonstrate need.”

Next say they prefer modern units with ‘large flexible’ floorspaces, adding: “Space requirements for Next stores have increased as a result of the introduction of new product ranges.

“In smaller catchments, as is the case at Dumfries, Next can trade profitably but the viable format for new stores in such locations is a modern unit in a retail park-type location.

“Such units allow a wide range of merchandise to be available and offer trading and occupation cost benefits. Moreover, retail park locations have a much flatter and longer trading pattern throughout the day than ‘traditional’ town centre stores with trading extended to 7.30pm, when people are typically returning from work. This combination of factors enables the company to operate viably in smaller catchments.”

Until February 2018 Next had a store in the Loreburne Centre but they say it was not a viable location and ‘struggled to attract sufficient trade’.

Although their proposal at that time to move out of town was dashed by the council, the firm says they have “remained keen to return to the town in the right location.”

They also revealed that their click-and-collect pod at Cuckoo Bridge has been used by over 5000 local customers in the last 12 months, adding: “Whilst this operation is successful, a full-range fashion and home store at Dumfries is Next’s strongly preferred option.”

It’s further noted that if their bid is successful this time round then the pod will be removed.

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