I'm in! Theo Paphitis to bring Boux Avenue lingerie shop to Hull's St Stephen's shopping centre
DRAGONS' Den star Theo Paphitis is set to open a branch of his boutique lingerie brand Boux Avenue in Hull.
The entrepreneur is expected to visit the city next month to unveil the new store in St Stephen's shopping centre.
It will open in a unit currently occupied by fashion retailer Oasis, which is due to close this week.
Centre manager Jim Harris said: "It is tremendous news for St Stephen's and for Hull that we have managed to attract a quality brand like Boux Avenue.
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"There are only 13 stores in the country at the moment.
"The nearest are in Meadowhall and the Trafford Centre, which only underlines the type of quality shopping location they are looking for.
"It's a great credit to Hull that Theo has decided to put his faith in the city by choosing to come here."
The star of the entrepreneur reality TV show launched Boux Avenue last year with plans to open at least 25 stores across the UK.
The move marked his return to the lingerie market after selling his previous underwear chain La Senza to private equity firm Lion Capital for £100m in 2006.
Last year, La Senza collapsed into administration.
Coincidentally, the former La Senza unit in St Stephen's is currently being converted into an extension of the neighbouring Hugh Rice jewellery store.
Mr Harris said: "Hugh Rice is doubling its size to create the largest jewellery store in East Yorkshire.
"They have been great tenants since opening here. It's worked for us and this expansion obviously means it's worked for them."
The family-owned jewellers also recently opened a new store in Toll Gavel, Beverley, having moved from a smaller premises in the town.
One of the original tenants in St Stephen's when it opened in 2007, Oasis is due to close this later this week, with some staff transferring to an existing concession in the nearby House of Fraser store in Jameson Street.
Mr Harris said he was optimistic about Hull's attraction as a shopping destination, with no current vacant units in St Stephen's, the recent refurbishment of the Debenhams store in the city centre and the arrival of Poundland in the former TJ Hughes building in Ferensway.
He said: "I know there have been lot of views expressed about Poundland but I am confident it will do well.
"It is a major player at its end of the market and I believe the city centre needs a diverse range of shops to suit all pockets.
"That's what we've got at the moment."
He said all the units in St Stephen's were now let, including the recently opened gift shop Menkind, which has moved into a unit previously occupied by children's clothing retailer Pumpkin Patch.
Mr Harris said: "Menkind is on a short-term lease until Christmas but it is another quality addition to our offer.
"It's encouraging to be fully let and shows this end of the city centre is working well at the moment."
Poundland opens for business: Page 24