When the Old Market first opened in 2014, many had voiced concerns over businesses leaving other areas of the city centre, to join the new shopping/restaurant area.

However, since then a lot has changed. The vast majority of people in Hereford and the wider area would view the Old Market as a success. The cinema is fabulous in comparison to the old one and stores such as Waitrose, Fox & Mabel and Seasalt bring something different to the city.

Despite the success of some of these retailers and the obvious success of The Beefy Boys restaurant, it hasn’t all been plain sailing and with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting retailers, the departure of Debenhams and Outfit, as well as Frankie & Benny’s, Chimichanga and Prezzo, has left British Land with a dilemma. Who can they tempt to fill these huge units?

On the restaurant front, the fantastic news that two independent restaurants, En BBQ and an Indian/Thai buffet will be opening, has certainly given not only the owners of the Old Market a boost, but also the local community.

Despite this positive news, filling the huge empty units left behind by Debenhams and Outfit will be a completely different task. With retailers struggling to be in the position to invest in current stores, let alone invest in opening new stores, it does leave the options rather limited. In other cities, including in Worcester, former Debenhams units are being filled by food quarters, but with Hereford’s already vast food and restaurant offerings, it seems that this idea would simply be a no go, without several restaurants leaving their current units and therefore impacting further on other areas of the city centre.

There are also discussions in some cities to move Marks and Spencer stores into former Debenhams units. This would get strong opposition in Hereford, with Marks and Spencer’s historic position in High Town. It really is a store that draws people to the area and therefore this option is probably also a no go.

What else? There have been rumours about stores such as Primark, Matalan or New Look taking on the Debenhams unit, but these remain nothing more than rumours at this stage. Some people have suggested a leisure facility or student accommodation, but these options would likely require significant changes being made to the layout of the store and this would likely be costly.

What would you like to see open over at Old Market Hereford? Join the discussion over on our Facebook page.