News of a possible Bradbeers department store in the heart of Salisbury city centre has been welcomed by residents and businesses alike.

One local business owner described it as "something to look forward to" and "a big boost for Salisbury" while a Salisbury city councillor praised the positive impact it could have on the city centre's footfall.

But with Covid set to be around us for a while and the current economic uncertainty, owners Smith and Bradbeer have urged caution.

Who are Bradbeers?

Bradbeers are a family business set up in 1837 which now runs department stores in Romsey, New Milton and Hedge End. 

They sell furniture, homeware, clothing, cosmetics and beauty products and offer services such as furniture services, a carpet estimating service, a curtains estimator, a hairdresser, nail bar and beauty salon.

What's their link to Salisbury?

In 2010, the company bought the building on Blue Boar Row which until April this year was occupied by Debenhams.

Director Greg Davies said this week that back then, the idea of opening a Bradbeers store was already in their mind as a plan B should Debenhams ever decide to shut their branch.

So what happened when the retailer pulled out?

The prominent site opposite the Guildhall was put on the market but because of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been interest but no formal offers, according to Mr Davies.

Their plan A isn't to sell the building anyway, but rather turn it into a Bradbeers department store similar to the one in Romsey, which many Salisbury residents currently travel to.

Will it be more successful than Debenhams?

According to Bradbeers, Debenhams' turnover was lower than Romsey's Bradbeers.

"We feel the turnover will increase by getting the clothing offer right," Mr Davies said.

Discussions with concession partners have already begun to ensure that a possible new branch in Salisbury city centre would bring brands currently not available in the area.

When could the new store open?

As early as the second half of next year.

But whether the project will actually come off depends on things out of our control - Covid and the economy becoming more stable.

Suppliers and partners, some of whom have imposed temporary bans on recruiting, also need to be on board, Mr Davies said, so at the moment it's pretty much a waiting game.