Castlebrook Properties Property Development - Michael Testler
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M&S ‘a dream come true’ for Westbourne - Michael Testler
From the archive, first published Thursday 9th Nov 2006.
THE new tenant for the former Waitrose store in Westbourne has been revealed - Marks & Spencer.
The company plans to make the shop one of its Simply Food stores and could be on site starting the refurbishment in as little as two weeks.
The news has been hailed as "the best Christmas present we could wish for" by delighted traders, who feared for their futures after Waitrose moved out of Westbourne and into Parkstone.
And Marks & Spencer has described Westbourne as an "exciting and attractive location" for one of its larger Simply Food stores.
A spokesman for the company said: "We plan to open in Westbourne as early as possible in the new year.
"We're very excited to be coming to Westbourne. It's a prime location and it has exactly the right kind of customer mix for us."
Michael Testler, chairman of commercial property investment company Royletest Ltd, said the original intention was to submit a planning application to transform the site into a mix of commercial space and around 50 residential flats.
The company, which owns the Seamoor Road site, had spent a couple of years discussing this prospect with Bourne-mouth council but the interest from Marks & Spencer persuaded them to reconsider: "They're probably everybody's dream tenant," he said. "Nothing is certain with planning, whereas Marks & Spencer are a highly successful operation and everybody likes their food stores. I think this is the very best tenant for Westbourne."
Mike Smith, president of the Westbourne Traders' Association, said: "It's a dream come true, it really is.
"Marks & Spencer is being very smart in picking up on Waitrose's customer base and we welcome them with open arms. This is the best Christmas present we could wish for. Everyone will be so happy."