An announcement on what lies in store for the empty John Lewis unit in Watford town centre could come sooner rather than later.

The Watford Observer understands several “well-known high street brands” have been in advanced talks with atria Watford – and that more than one is finally lined up to move in.

Thousands were left dismayed back in the summer of 2020 when the John Lewis department store shut down.

Despite paying no rent on the site, the company said the branch was "financially challenged" even before the pandemic struck. John Lewis has since gone on to close more shops around the country.

Watford Observer:

It was quickly confirmed the site would not be redeveloped as housing but there has been little information since.

But now, two years on, the Observer understands that the process to sign new tenants is drawing to a conclusion, with a list of interested retailers whittled down.

Negotiations with chosen businesses are thought to be at an advanced stage.

It is understood that at least two unnamed retailers will move into the vacant space, with reconfiguration of the existing space likely needed.

Watford Observer:

Whether or not they are new to Watford or existing retailers in the town remains a mystery, with shopping centre bosses tight-lipped.

A spokesperson for atria Watford said: “We have seen good interest to date and are engaging with prospective occupiers. We will share a formal update as soon as we are able.

“Atria Watford remains one of the UK’s most popular retail and leisure destinations. Demand for space is strong, reflected in recent openings – including NEXT, Victoria’s Secret and Mamas & Papas earlier this year.”

Watford Observer: Atria Watford shopping centre extension which includes the Next Home & Beauty store. Credit: atria WatfordAtria Watford shopping centre extension which includes the Next Home & Beauty store. Credit: atria Watford

The Observer has been told there is “hope” an official announcement could come within the next few weeks.