Birmingham’s biggest shopping development of the year has hit the skids.
Because the giant new Primark Birmingham Pavilions has been delayed by months.
The news means that the world’s biggest Primark will not now be open in time for Christmas – or the January sales.
Instead shoppers facing waiting until spring 2019 for the grand opening.
But at least the opening should still come just in time for the 50th anniversary of the company’s origins in Dublin, where the first Penneys store was opened in June, 1969.
In recent years, Birmingham’s biggest building projects have always opened on time, from the Bullring (2003), to the Library of Birmingham (2013), New Street Raiway Station and Grand Central (2015).
But the Midland Metro extension from Snow Hill Railway Station to New Street Railway Station wasn’t opened until May 2016.
Last month, work to extend it into Broad Street saw Paradise Queensway shut down with a vague reopening time of ‘summer 2019’.
Similarly, only last week we revealed that work to rebuild Centenary Square would be delayed by a year to the ‘summer of 2019’.
A new tower block at 103 Colmore Row was also due to be completed in 2018 in place of John Madin’s NatWest Tower.
But with foundation work having not even begun yet, the earliest it could be open is the autumn of 2020.
Meanwhile, the future of the giant House of Fraser department store on Corporation Street is still up in the air after the struggling parent company was bought by Mike Ashley.
What does Primark say?
The enormous task of demolishing most of the former Pavilions shopping centre and reconstituting its girder skeleton into a brand new store has proved to be impossible within the original time frame.
As recently as June – three months after the long winter had given way to a summer heatwave – Christmas was still the target opening date.
Confirming news of the delay today, a Primark spokesperson said: “We will unveil our new flagship store in Birmingham during spring 2019.
“This will be our largest store to date, featuring the latest contemporary shop fit and an enhanced customer experience with 160,000 sq ft of retail space and five floors of fashion.
“The store will create more than 500 new jobs and 430 colleagues will transfer from our existing location in Birmingham.
“Development is progressing well and to facilitate some additional work, we have moved the opening date to spring 2019.
“This is a unique store, with many new and exciting elements, and we want to ensure that we have the best possible in-store experience for our customers when our doors open.
“The new Primark Birmingham store will have the latest trends in women’s, men’s and children’s fashions including footwear, accessories as well as lingerie, beauty and homeware.
“In addition to amazing fashion at amazing prices, this store will also have many new features.
“They will include Primark’s largest ever beauty studio for nails, make-up, hair, eyebrows and lashes.
“There will be a barbers and three different dining experiences.
The store will also have a personalisation service; recharge seating areas and free WiFi.
“Other surprises will be revealed on opening day.”
What has happened so far?
Primark’s rapid expansion in the past decade was partly fuelled by the acquisition of Littlewoods retail stores in 2005.
On March 16, 2016, Primark opened a 45,000 square foot store at The Fort shopping centre in Erdington.
The 160,000 sq ft size of the Pavilions centre will be four times Primark’s current site on New Street, from where existing staff will transfer in due course.
We revealed the size of the Pavilions job in hand last November when we posted our incredible pictures from the air of the work to gut The Pavilions centre.
The old shopping mall had closed down after 29 years of trading on May 20, 2016, ready for the Primark project to replace it.
Now it seems that the world’s biggest Primark is even bigger than the company itself had foreseen.
Companies which used to be based in the old Pavilions included Moss Bros, Monsoon and Disney.