All hail the unlikely saviour of Liverpool’s department stores: Billionaire Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley
It didn’t take long for one of Liverpool’s biggest stores to find a new owner. But will the arrival of a huge Sports Direct in the old M&S give the city’s historic core a sporting chance for survival?
Dear readers — Last week’s feather-ruffling announcement that Sports Direct will be moving into Marks and Spencer’s old Church Street home represents, for the Liverpool BID company, ‘an exciting time’ for shoppers. But does it herald the start of a ‘next generation’ revamp of our high street, or the death march to its inevitable demise?
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The residents of Toxteth were met with a surprise this week after a rather generous donor offered them £100k to give to charities and organisations in the area. David Clarke handed over the money to twelve people in the area after inheriting the cash, in the hopes it could help tackle deprivation in L8. The residents opted to donate the money to The Florrie community centre, The Dingle, Granby and Toxteth Collaborative and a network of other charities and schools. BBC Merseyside interviewed David about his donation earlier this week — listen to that here.
Merseyside housing provider Torus has been ordered to pay nearly £3,000 in compensation after failing to respond to several reports of mould in a property in the North-West, damaging the tenant’s mental and physical health. The Housing Ombudsman found that Torus waited nine months before addressing the damp and mould problem, with the resident forced to sleep on the floor for three months after the mould spread to their bed. Torus claimed it cancelled the order for repair works after three failed attempts to gain access to the property, but there was not enough evidence to support this claim. A senior management review of the case is now underway.
And a wonderful story from the BBC this week revealed a veteran principal of Liverpool Theatre School once told off John Lennon for his poor time-keeping when the Fab Four visited for a photoshoot. Norah Button, now 85, got in a row with Lennon after The Beatles arrived late at the school in the early 60s. She said: "They came in [late] and I said, 'Aren't you ashamed of leaving me standing here?'”. Lennon quickly snapped back, when he Saw Her Standing There, and said: “Well, no, Mrs.'” A big mistake for young Lennon — Ms Button quickly shot back: “'Never mind No Mrs, I have to earn my living and you're stopping it.” Consider him told.
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It didn’t take long for one of Liverpool’s biggest stores to find a new owner. But will the arrival of a huge new Sports Direct give the city’s historic core a sporting chance for survival?
By David Lloyd
Of all the High Street machinations we failed to predict, Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley becoming the saviour of Liverpool’s venerable old department stores was perhaps the most astounding.
It’s fun to watch the complex choreography of Liverpool’s retail tit for tat. Liverpool ONE steals M&S from BID, shortly followed by Sports Direct (who currently have a store in Liverpool ONE) transferring to the old M&S site in the heart of BID-managed Church Street.
The temptation to wheel out the ‘deckchairs on the Titanic’ idiom is hard to resist. The fact remains, if the death of Debenhams didn’t offer a smaller footprint for M&S, they’d have left the city completely, knickers and all — just as they did in Glasgow, and just as they’ve promised will happen from now on, potentially leaving Britain’s high streets in favour of city-edge retail parks.
Predicting what happens next on the High Street is as foolish as it’s ever been.
So what of the Sports Direct move? It’s definitely caused a city-wide clutching of pearls, not least in the comments on this very publication. Its Liverpool ONE store is anything but subtle, its windows plastered in seemingly never-ending sale signs. Surely this cut-price, garish interloper’s occupation of Compton House’s elegant, Grade II listed curves will fit like a Comic Sans pull quote in a Times New Roman poem?