The owners of Watford's shopping centre say they "continue to engage with a number of operators" about the vacant John Lewis site.

The historic department store closed down last summer to the dismay of shoppers and the large space at Atria Watford has remained empty since.

Vicki Costello, the general manager of the shopping centre, told the Observer last August there had been "significant interest" in the space, but as of yet there has been no update on what could fill the gap.

While fellow department store Debenhams has been replaced by a Next Beauty & Home shop, John Lewis' departure continues to leave a gaping hole over several floors.

The John Lewis store in Watford before it closed permenantly

The John Lewis store in Watford before it closed permenantly

The Observer sought to get an update on what may lie ahead from Atria Watford's owners, but the owners' response suggest nothing has been finalised as of yet.

Steve Gray, head of European retail asset management at Global Mutual, said: "We’ve seen a good level of interest in the space and we continue to engage with a number of operators.

"As restrictions ease and people venture out, retail and leisure brands are once again focused on finding and securing high quality space – where footfall is healthy and the existing tenant mix is strong.

"Atria Watford offers exactly this, and we expect continued interest in our offering more widely over the coming weeks.

"The long list of brands who have renewed or taken on new space over the last few months is testament to Atria’s strengths – including Apple, River Island and Next."

Atria Watford

Atria Watford

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When John Lewis' closure at intu Watford - as it was known then - was confirmed last year, it was one of eight stores to close for good. A John Lewis spokesperson said the Watford branch was "financially challenged" even before the pandemic struck.

Despite a 13,000 signature-strong petition calling for the store to be saved, followed by meetings between the company's chairman Sharon White and Watford's mayor Peter Taylor and MP Dean Russell in Watford, there was to be no u-turn.

Since John Lewis in Watford officially closed in August, a further eight stores across the country have since shut their doors permanently.