St Helier welcomes new shops and eateries

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In King Street, a new Sports Direct and high-end Flannels outlet is gradually taking shape on the former BHS and USC site, while Hettich is moving into the former Burton shop – once part of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia empire – and, this week, a new wine bar opened in the former Jersey Pottery store in Halkett Place.

Meanwhile, an entrepreneur has confirmed his plans to open a French-style brasserie in the former Beghins shoe shop next spring, with an adjoining French ‘pavement café’ at the nearby Petite Baguette outlet in Broad Street.

Further north, in Halkett Street, the former Jaeger and Austin Reed stores are in the process of being overhauled and gym equipment has appeared in them during the past few weeks.

The site of the former Topshop, another Arcadia member, is reportedly being transformed into a furniture store and it is also rumoured that a St Helier hotel has plans to open a new bar in the town centre. Mr Burgher, St Helier’s town centre manager, said: ‘I do not think there is any town centre in the British Isles which is getting this level of investment at the moment. We are in the middle of a really exciting period where there are lots of businesses opening in town and many of those are new businesses, which is great.’

Mr Burgher said that there was currently a shop vacancy rate of 8.2% for the third quarter of this year compared to 14.5% in the UK but that this figure was likely to improve at the end of the year.

In February 2019, Beghins, one of Jersey’s longest-established stores with a 177-year trading history, was closed by its UK owners. The unit, which occupies 51-53 King Street, has been empty ever since.

But David Voisin, the unit’s owner, has announced plans to open a Frenchstyle eatery called Brasserie Colmar. Mr Voisin said: ‘I have owned Beghins for about three years and the intention was to let it as a shop but Covid put paid to that. There are not retailers lining up like there used to be but needs must. I was previously in hotel management and I have teamed up with Dave Parish, from Cheffins, and we are going to open a French-style brasserie restaurant with a small bar. It will be very traditional French-style food and good quality but it is not going to be priced out of everyone’s reach.

‘I have also bought La Petite Baguette in Broad Street and it will be smartened up and refurbished into a French-style pavement café. It works for us because it means we can service both outlets from the same kitchen. It will be a very different venue from the brasserie and a bit more casual but it will also do some good food for people who want a sandwich and a cup of coffee. But it will be a lot smarter and a lot more pleasant.’

Mr Voisin added that he was very confident in St Helier and was investing ‘a lot of money’ into the new business.

However, he said that the town needed to have a variety of businesses rather than solely retail.

‘People are not going to go shopping in town unless there are other things there. The Planning Department is aware of that and [St Helier Constable] Simon Crowcroft is too. Gone are the days of people needing a jumper and going to St Helier – people just look online,’ he said.

Moving into the former Jersey Pottery store, a new ‘wine, champagne and charcuterie’ bar – entitled The Watchmaker – has just opened. The name was coined as a nod to the property’s history, as, in around 1900, it was home to Edgar Brothers jewellers, watchmakers and opticians.

Bruno Santos Costa, the owner of The Watchmaker, said: ‘I have been running restaurants in London for the last ten years and during the pandemic I moved back to Jersey so I am pretty experienced. I have done openings before but this is the first one I have done myself. I think Jersey has an amazing hospitality scene, it has got a growing vibe, good food and great links to the wine world.

‘There are a lot of great young hospitality entrepreneurs in Jersey at the moment who are really going places and it is great to be part of it.’

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