Plans unveiled for the reopening of the historic Bobby’s department store in Bournemouth
Plans are in place for the historic Bobby’s department store building in Bournemouth to reopen in phases following the closure of the Debenhams store on the site.
Verve Properties, the developer that recently transformed the nearby Avenue Centre, is planning to restore the building with many of its original features.
The first parts of the store are set to open in mid-July with more elements being introduced throughout the year and into 2022. The July openings will include a Bobby’s Beauty Hall and a traditional ice cream and coffee parlour.
The beauty hall will offer products from both the big cosmetic brands and local companies. It will also feature a sushi and plant-based poke bowl bar, nail bar and treatment rooms for female and male grooming. The watch repairing station ‘In Time’ will be retained.
Other work will include opening up the large windows on the store’s first floor and the installation of balconies. This floor will house a food and market hall featuring street food outlets, a deli a bar and speciality retail market pods. There are also plans to create a spa on the floor.
Meanwhile, the second floor will be home to an art gallery that will be accessed via Terrace Road. In addition, old buildings at the rear of the building will be reorganised to create a garden area and a micro-brewery and a craft ale smokery bar. There will also be a fourth floor restaurant.
Verve has also announced plans for a special collaboration with the Bournemouth-bred artist Stuart Semple, which will involve memories of the town.
The Bobby & Co store opened in Bournemouth in 1915 and remained there for over 50 years before being taken over by Debenhams in 1972.
Ashley Nicholson director of Verve Properties, said: “If shoppers are going to be tempted back into town centres, then retailers need to value three key elements in any new structure and design. The first is to consider what kind of shopping experience people will still want to happen “in real life”- beauty, clothing and footwear are good examples of retail that people want to try out in person. The second element should focus on how to make the shopping experience a fun and enjoyable one. The third should be to remember that ultimately town centres are there to serve the local community.
“It will take time to deliver Bobby’s back to its former glory, the building has suffered a lack of investment over many years, but with the patience and support of the community this project can play can be a significant role in the re-imagining of the town centre in a post Covid world. “