One of Stoke-on-Trent’s most popular fashion stores is understood to have permanently closed – leaving shoppers ‘gutted’.
The Outfit shop at Festival Park – which employs around 23 staff – is reportedly one of 21 branches which will shut good at the end of the month.
The news comes after Arcadia Group – which also operates Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins among other brands – went into administration at the end of last year, leaving a number of big-name stores in Hanley facing an uncertain future.
A total of 13,000 jobs were said to be at risk after Deloitte confirmed the retail empire – owned by Sir Phillip Green – had gone into administration on November 30.
The latest round of 31 shop closures – expected to include all Outfit stores – will lead to the loss of another 714 more jobs.
Outfit, which was acquired by Arcadia from Sears in 1999, is not a fashion brand itself but sells all of Arcadia’s retail brands in out-of-town destinations for shoppers.
It is one of the most popular stores on Festival Park, which is also home to Next, River Island, New Look and Go Outdoors.
Now shoppers have spoken of their disappointment news.
Abbie Mannion, aged 24, of Tunstall , said: “I’ll miss popping in because it was always really handy to have a few different stores under the same roof and as far as I know there isn’t anywhere else like that in the area.
“I like going to Festival Park because parking is really convenient compared to Hanley, so I hope that the closure of Outfit doesn’t affect other stores there like Next or New Look.”
Molly Jones, aged 24, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, added: “It’s a shame for Festival Park because it was one of the best stores in my opinion. I liked the fact there were so many options in one shop. I loved going into Outfit and then New Look – you could always get whatever you needed.
“I’d like to see something replace it that we don’t have in Stoke-on-Trent, like an Apple store or a Disney store.”
And Tori Wetton, aged 24, of Leek, said: “I’m sad to see Outfit go. I always went in whenever I was at Festival Park. It was nice to be able to see different stores within the same building.
“I’d like to see another clothes store there, maybe Zara because we don’t have one in Stoke-on-Trent. It’s a nice big space and I think that’s what Festival Park needs.
“A lot of people will visit just for clothes stores, so if they all start to close, people will go elsewhere.”
StokeonTrentLive approached Arcadia for a comment on the reported closure of the Festival Park store but they declined to comment.
However, Ian Grabiner, chief of Arcadia, said it marks ‘an incredibly sad day for all of our colleagues as well as our suppliers and our many other stakeholders’.
The news comes after the deadline for rescue bids was set by administrators at Deloitte.
Enderby-based Next has been touted as one of the most likely victors in the process, with the listed retailer bidding for the group in partnership with US hedge fund Davidson Kempner.
Last month, administrators agreed the sale of Arcadia’s plus-sized brand Evans to Australian firm City Chic Collective in a £23 million deal.
The rest of the business, which includes other high street names such as Dorothy Perkins and Wallis, is being auctioned.