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Up-market clothing chain Jack Wills set to take over former Croydon’s store in Ipswich town centre

PUBLISHED: 08:00 13 October 2015 | UPDATED: 11:17 14 October 2015

The former Croydon's store in Ipswich - set to become a Jack Wills store.

The former Croydon's store in Ipswich - set to become a Jack Wills store.

One of the best-known new clothing chains in Britain is set to take over the former Croydon’s store in Ipswich’s Tavern Street.

Jack Wills already has stores in Aldeburgh and Southwold, and is now preparing to move into Suffolk’s county town.

Styling itself as “University Outfitters” Jack Wills was founded in Salcombe in Devon in 1999 and has since expanded across the country – and abroad.

It’s classic clothing range is popular with young people who like its “Preppy” style – and it has been credited with re-igniting the “Yuppy” style over recent years.

It is understood that bosses from Jack Wills were keen to come to Ipswich – not known as an “up-market” town for retailing – because they saw the great potential with the changes being made to the town centre.

Officials from Ipswich Central and the borough council helped to persuade the company, which is now based in London, that the town would be a good place for it to open a store.

The company has still to formally sign the lease – but it is in talks with the borough council about changes to the building, including signs, and has started advertising for staff.

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said: “Jack Wills is one of the major retailing names not currently trading in Ipswich that we were very keen to attract to the town.

“I am absolutely delighted to hear that it is now planning to come to Ipswich. It is a real shot in the arm for the town and it indicates that top-end retailers now see that there is something really significant happening here.”

The news is a welcome boost for the town centre – it was seen as a big blow for Ipswich when it emerged that Next were moving out of its Westgate Street store.

Mr Clement remained confident that Next would return to the town centre in the near future: “I know they are looking at sites and I don’t think it will be long before we know where they will be moving.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer was delighted at the news: “It is very exciting that Jack Wills is coming to Ipswich. It shows the message is getting across that the town is somewhere that is very much improving.

“Great credit goes to Ipswich Central for putting together the vision for the town centre – and to the borough council for being prepared to look at implementing its proposals.”

Jack Wills is known for taking over old or landmark buildings in town centres – and their move into the former Croydon’s building is seen as a perfect fit.

Its long-term lease was bought by Tesco last year – but when the company decided against going ahead with a conversion it decided to re-sell the lease.

The building itself dates from the late 1920s, and is one of the best-known in the heart of Ipswich. After it ceased to be a jewellery store, it was taken over by Black’s outdoor store – but that closed in 2012 and it has been empty since then.

The news that Tesco was planning to move there did not go down well with many – but its conversion into a Jack Wills store is likely to meet with widespread approval.

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