The closure of H&M in Ipswich's Tavern Street now looks like part of a reshuffling of the town's retail backdrop - starting with the opening of a upmarket Flannels store on the site.

And that development is likely to kick-start plans to reopen the old Butter Market BHS as a Sports Direct alongside other Frasers Group brands like Game and Jack Wills.

Ipswich Star: Frasers Group is hoping to reopen the former BHS in the Butter Market in the autumn of next year.Frasers Group is hoping to reopen the former BHS in the Butter Market in the autumn of next year. (Image: Paul Geater)

Meanwhile it is understood that H&M is keen to re-establish a presence in the town centre as soon as possible after it closes at the end of the week - and has been talking to the borough council about trying to find a new site.

The H&M store on the junction of Tavern Street and Tower  Street was originally built for what was then known as British Home Stores. The building is now owned by the Frasers Group.

Ipswich Star: The Tavern Street store was a BHS branch until the 1990sThe Tavern Street store was a BHS branch until the 1990s (Image: Newsquest)

When BHS moved out of there to the Butter Market at the end of the 1990s it was taken over by first Superdrug and then H&M - but the two sites remained linked.

Now it is understood that Frasers Group plans to open a stand-alone Flannels store in the Tavern Street store in the middle of next year.

It had planned to include Flannels in the refigured Butter Market site which it bought in 2020.

However, since then the company has bought the Jack Wills and Game brands - and it is expected they will move in alongside its main Sports Direct store which will take up the bulk of the building.

Work on the Butter Market building stalled during lockdown and with the economic uncertainty over the last few months.

But structural work inside it has been carried out - and the Frasers Group is believed to be working to get it open by the autumn of next year, just as people are starting to think about Christmas shopping.

When H&M confirmed its store closure last week its statement expressed sadness at leaving the Ipswich high street but it is already looking at potential new sites in the town and has asked the borough council for advice on what may become available.

Nowhere has been formally identified as a potential new home - but the fact that major retailers like H&M do want to establish a new presence in the town centre will give optimism to developers like UNEX which is re-working the former Debenhams store on the Cornhill.