End of an era as Hettich plans to cross King Street

ONE of St Helier’s longest-standing family businesses is to move from their King Street premises of 121 years to the former Burton building across the road.

Hettich managing director Jeffrey Chinn, outside the current King Street premises of the watch and jewellery retailer and opposite the former Burton building to which the business will be relocating. Picture: JON GUEGAN
Hettich managing director Jeffrey Chinn, outside the current King Street premises of the watch and jewellery retailer and opposite the former Burton building to which the business will be relocating. Picture: JON GUEGAN

Hettich, a high-end watch and jewellery retailer, announced the purchase of the shop yesterday. The premises have been vacant since the collapse of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia empire in November last year.

Describing the purchase of the new shop as ‘a huge investment’ for Hettich, Jeffrey Chinn, managing director, said they were excited at the prospect of moving into a new era.

‘For more than one hundred years, Hettich has reinvented itself to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers, while our attention to detail, excellence in service quality and unique craftsmanship have remained unchanged. Our new showroom will echo our remarkable values and retain the air of elegance Hettich is renowned for,’ he said.

The Burton shop, which opened in 1932, closed its doors earlier this year after the Arcadia collapse in November. The group also owned the Dorothy Perkins, Topshop and British Home Stores brands, which have also disappeared from the St Helier townscape.

Before they move into their new home, Hettich say they intend to restore the building, which contains original features from the Art Deco design pioneered for Burton by the Leeds-based architect Harry Wilson. Hettich will continue to trade from their present premises until the refurbishment of the showroom of 3,000 square feet, workshop and new office space has been completed. They will then decide on the future of 1 King Street.

St Helier town centre and events manager Connor Burgher welcomed Hettich’s announcement as ‘very positive news’ for St Helier and said it was great to see a local brand going into an important outlet like Burton.

‘I’ve said before that I think we are at the start of an exciting period which will see a lot more stores in the High Street occupied in the next few years,’ he said.

The Burton building is one of St Helier’s most distinctive examples of Art Deco architecture along with the adjoining former Woolworth’s store in King Street.

Société Jersiaise vice-president Stuart Fell, writing about the architecture of the town in the Société’s Bulletin, observed that ‘much of the joy of the external building survives in the inventive decorative detail which employs a wide array of abstract and modified classical motifs’.

He writes: ‘Burton had established around two hundred shops in converted premises by 1920, and began to build new stores soon afterwards.

‘Prominent corner sites were favoured and sites were enlarged by gradual acquisition until redevelopment was worthwhile, and this occurred on the St Helier site with the acquisition of the property to the east providing a very prominent and substantial new retail frontage in Halkett Place.’

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