‘Range of options’ for Compton House, says M&S

Retailer Marks & Spencer left a 350,000 sq ft hole in Church Street in when it relocated its store to Liverpool ONE but now tells LBN it is exploring a ‘range of options’ for its previous home. Tony McDonough reports

Compton House
Compton House in Church Street in Liverpool. Picture by Tony McDonough


Marks and Spencer says it is exploring a “range of options” to bring its former home in Church Street in Liverpool back into use.

In August the retail giant vacated the 350,000 sq ft Compton House in Liverpool’s premier shopping street to move into the former Debenhams store at Liverpool ONE. It had occupied the Grade II-Listed building since 1930.

Despite the opening of the £1bn Liverpool ONE complex in 2008, Church Street remains at the heart of the city centre’s retail offer and is still home to major brands including Next, Primark and River Island.

Liverpool City Council owns the freehold of Compton House but M&S remains the leaseholder, despite moving out. It has told LBN it wants to find a new use for the building “as soon as possible”.

“We are working quickly to bring Compton House back into use as soon as possible,” the company said. “We are currently looking at a range of options and we hope to be able to share some news soon.”

This isn’t the only vacant unit in Church Street. The Vintage Store, which opened in May 2022 in part of the former Topshop outlet opposite Compton House, has also now closed. This is part of the Liverpool ONE estate.

In recent times Liverpool’s record in keeping empty city centre shop units to a minimum has been comparatively successful.

Figures released by Liverpool BID Company in June revealed just 5.4% of retail units in Liverpool city centre were empty – less than half the national average of 11%. The BID covers Liverpool city centre’s retail district with the exception of Liverpool ONE.

BID chief executive Bill Addy told LBN: “I know that, because of the strength of Liverpool and the strength of our retail presence – we have a vacancy rate half that of the national average – people are already looking at Compton House to bring it back into use.

“It won’t stay empty very long. Marks & Spencer is the leaseholder and have a lot of interest in the building so they want to make sure it goes to a good home.

“Our footfall is higher than it was pre-pandemic because retailers realise to bring people back into their stores they need to do more. That’s the key to retail in the city centre, it brings people in. It’s about retailers understanding the demographics of those coming into the city centre.”

Earlier this year there was speculation that at least part of the Compton House site could be occupied by iconic Liverpool discount retailer TJ Hughes. It is moving out of its London Road home after more than a century.

However, in August it was revealed TJs will be moving into 12-15 Church Street. This was formerly occupied by fashion retailer H&M and sits within a 70,000 sq ft building. It is next door to the Next clothes store on the corner of Church Street and Whitechapel.

Liverpool’s recent record at filling big spaces vacated by retail tenants is actually pretty good. There were fears for the future of the former BHS store in Lord Street when the chain collapsed in 2016. However, it was swiftly filled by Swedish fashion brand H&M.

Similarly, when US retailer Forever 21 closed its large outlet on the corner of Church Street and Whitechapel, it was filled by fashion chain Next. In turn, Next’s former Church Street home is now occupied by sports retailer Decathlon.


Marks & Spencer, Compton House
Marks & Spencer had been in Compton House since 1930. Picture by Tony McDonough
Marks & Spencer
Entrance to the new Marks & Spencer store at Liverpool ONE


Completed in 1867, Compton House stands on the site of a former building by the same name that was destroyed by a fire in 1865. It was owned by Plymouth-born brothers William and James Reddecliffe Jeffrey and contained a clothiers and a drapers.

Once rebuilt in 1867 Compton House was occupied by the same business. However, this closed in March 1871. For two years it remained empty before being repurposed as a hotel with retail outlets including a drapers, hosiery and hatters on the ground floor.

READ MORE: First look inside as new Liverpool Marks & Spencer opens

Thanks to Liverpool being a major port for Transatlantic steamers the hotel became popular with American tourists. But as the shipping trade declined the hotel eventually closed. M&S moved into the building in 1930.

It is possible Compton House could return to its previous status as a hotel. However, it wasrevealed in early August that the adjacent George Henry Lee department store building is to be transformed into a £25m hotel.

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