So long New Look, arrivederci Argos – but hello Granello Lounge

Old and new: Argos, New Look and the site of the new Granello Lounge in Brand Street, Hitchin. Pictu

Old and new: Argos, New Look and the site of the new Granello Lounge in Brand Street, Hitchin. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

It’s all change for one of Hitchin’s main shopping streets, as two longstanding fixtures move out and a much-anticipated new offer gets set to open.

The Brand Street branch of fashion chain New Look is to close this Saturday, and the Argos outlet next door is set to merge into the town’s Sainsbury’s supermarket on November 14 – a day after closing in Brand Street.

On the other side of New Look, where Halfords closed in January, work is nearing completion on the new Granello Lounge – the latest addition to the Loungers chain behind Biggleswade’s Rosso Lounge and the Cultivo Lounge in Letchworth’s Leys Avenue.

The restaurants in Letchworth and Biggleswade have both proved popular. Granello is set to open next Wednesday, September 12.

The chain told the Comet it had spent £660,000 transforming the site into a “family-friendly retro-inspired cosy retreat, where eclectic artwork and quirky curios sit next to oversized vintage sofas and old-school benches”.

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Operations manager Klive Roberts said: “We’re really looking forward to throwing open the doors at Granello Lounge and showing the locals how to lounge in style. The team are looking forward to becoming part of the community and will support local groups and initiatives wherever possible.”

The firm, based in Bristol, say the Hitchin branch will create 25 jobs. During its first month of trading, the team intends to give Letchworth-based Garden House Hospice Care 50p for every burger and 10p for every coffee sold.

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Asked about the changes to Brand Street, Hitchin BID manager Tom Hardy told the Comet: “Nationally, there has been a dramatic change to the way people use town centres and the needs of commercial spaces over online sales. Hitchin has stood up well to this change, still boasting half the national vacancy rate in the town.

“For the units that are vacant, we work closely with landlords to not just encourage them to be filled but advise them of the type of business to consider – ensuring that our town continues to be a varied, vibrant place for visitors to enjoy and businesses to prosper.”

Also on the way to Hitchin is Hotel Chocolat, which is set to open at the former Carphone Warehouse site in Bancroft sometime in mid-October.

The Hotel Chocolat will be a retail store, with the chain’s Ice Cream of the Gods on sale.

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