Could TJ Hughes move into M&S building?

Council planners in Liverpool are recommending approval to convert the TJ Hughes store in London Road into apartments – but where will the retailer relocate to? Tony McDonough reports

TJ Hughes
TJ Hughes may vacate Audley House in London Road, Liverpool. Picture by Tony McDonough


Plans to convert the current TJ Hughes store in Liverpool into 199 apartments are likely to be approved next week.

Liverpool City Council planning officials are recommending approval of the project put forward by TJs owner Anil Juneja for the conversion of Audley House in London Road into a residential complex.

Next door, work is already under way converting Hughes House into 250 apartments. If the plan for Audley House is approved on Tuesday, February 21 it will be the end of an era. 

Another retailer, Owen Owen, originally occupied Audley House before relocating to Clayton Square in 1925. It has been the home of TJ Hughes since 1927 and has welcomed generations of Liverpool shoppers through its doors.

It is understood Mr Juneja would look to relocate his flagship store to a more central location in Liverpool city centre. But where would it go?

One tantalising possibility is the current Marks & Spencer store in Church Street. The national retailer has occupied the Grade II-listed Compton House since 1930. But by the middle of this year it will have relocated to the former Debenhams store in Liverpool ONE.

Its departure will leave a big hole in what has long been regarded as Liverpool’s premier shopping street. Compton House was once a hotel for wealthy American tourists and conversion to leisure is seen as a real possibility.

However, the prospect of such an iconic Liverpool name as TJs trading out of all, or at least part, of the building Church Street could be hard to resist.

Thomas J Hughes opened a small shop in London Road in 1912 before moving into the larger Audley House in 1927. Audley House itself was created in phases between 1889 and 1913

Fast forward to 2008 and TJs is a national retailer trading out of 57 UK stores. However, the financial crash in 2008 led to a torrid time for the retail sector and the business collapsed into administration in June 2011.


Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer is to leave its Church Street home this year. Picture by Tony McDonough
TJ Hughes
How Audley House would look if the conversion goes ahead


It continued to trade through administration but with most of the stores closed. At its lowest point it had just six outlets remaining.

Benross Group, run by Liverpool-born wholesale entrepreneur Anil Juneja saved the business from extinction buying it for £2m. He has since reinvigorated the chain, taking advantage of the public’s appetite for value retailing.

READ MORE: Sony agrees biggest Liverpool letting for three years

It now trades out of 13 locations in the North West, Scotland, North East, and one South East store in Maidstone, and employs hundreds of people.

Audley will be converted into 129 one-bed apartments and 70 two-bed apartments. There would also be a gym on the lower ground floor. The project would aim to retain much of the building’s character.

Part of the London Road area has been revived as ‘the fabric district’ and the Fabric District Community Interest Company has objected to the plans in their current form. It would like to see the ground floor of the building retained for independent businesses.

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