Clothing giant Next is looking to close its Chichester store before its lease is up in 2020.
A spokesman said the company was ‘unlikely’ to renew its lease and would look at any offers from other retailers to take it over before 2020.
However they insisted no final decision had been made.
It follows staff at the East Street store saying they had been told by the company it was to close but said they weren’t sure exactly when.
If another major national retailer is abandoning the city it is a further blow to the high street at a time when people are voicing unhappiness at its offering and footfall has reduced.
Only last year Next closed its separate menswear shop also in East Street and added the range to its flagship store in the Corn Exchange.
Its likely departure is likely to fuel talk of Primark moving into Chichester, with talk of the discount clothing giant waiting for an opportunity to move into a unit big enough like the Corn Exchange, previously occupied by fast food eatery McDonalds.
It comes as clothing store East is also set to go, with its store on South Street closing on Thursday, May 3, according to staff.
East is in administration and, according to staff in Chichester, seven people are being made redundant.
The Observer’s request for a comment from the administrator went unanswered.
On March 31, another big national brand, Swarovski, left its place close to the Market Cross in East Street.
Staff there said it decided not to renew its lease.
National retailers Thorntons, Mothercare, Pia, Laura Ashley, Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe and Argos (moved to Sainsbury’s out of town) have all vacated Chichester in the last year.
A number of independents such as Headromance and cafe Mason Blanc have also gone, as well as David Messam after nearly 60 years in Chichester.
It comes as Caffe Nero were granted permission for its second coffee shop in the city centre, opening in North Street in February, as well as permission for its Harris+Hoole cafe brand in the old Maison Blanc, South Street.
National cafe chain The Boston Tea Party is about to open a 150-seater restaurant in another part of the Corn Exchange in Baffins Lane.
Pret a Manger is also bidding to expand into the empty Pia site next door, but with Chichester now over its 25 per cent allocation for non-retail shops within the city centre, it faces a battle for planning permission. Full story here: https://www.chichester.co.uk/news/business/pret-expansion-may-be-blocked-by-chichester-retail-rule-1-8394367
A huge majority of people taking an Observer poll said Chichester has too many coffee shops
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Please note this story has been edited following Next’s comment.