Axminster’s former department store has been sold and will be turned into modern retail space to encourage shoppers to the town.
The sale of Trinity House was confirmed this week by Axminster Property, who handled the purchase and will be responsible for building’s future.
The plan is to sub-divide the now-empty large department shop floor into three retail units which can be used by a variety of businesses.
Axminster Property, who will manage the building and retail units, said Trinity House was in ‘safe hands’.
Kelly Apps, Axminster Property estate manager, said refurbishment work would begin soon to avoid leaving the large focal point empty for a long period, which could be detrimental to Axminster.
She said there had already been some ‘very interesting enquiries’ from businesses keen to trade from Trinity House.
Subject to planning permission being granted to interested businesses, the refurbished retail space could home a variety of enterprises, including restaurants, shops, or office space, she said.
Kelly said: “We want to bring this building back into this century and get businesses into Axminster.
“It’s right in the centre of town. It’s a focal point and it’s not doing Axminster any favours being empty.”
Axminster Property said it entered into negotiations some months back and thanked the town for its patience when it seemed unclear what was happening.
Kelly said: “There were some legal loop holes to jump through but we are there now.
“We wanted to ensure that the building was not left empty for longer than necessary to secure the future of Axminster.
“A building in that location, of that size, left abandoned could be disastrous for a wonderful little town like Axminster and we are just too passionate about this area to let that happen.”
Ian Styless, managing director at Axminster Property, said he would reveal Trinity House’s new tenants soon.
He said: “Work will start very soon on a facelift for this classic building that we sincerely hope will form a new centre of excellence in retailing, encouraging businesses to thrive in the redevelopment and emergence of Axminster town centre as a place to shop.
“It won’t happen overnight but we are determined it will and can happen with investment and support from all of us in the Axe Valley and surrounding areas.”