Unique, but others are planned: 'Bond Street by the sea' offers haven for shops and shoppers

HORNSEA, a quiet backwater on the Humberside coast south of Bridlington, seems an unlikely site for an innovation in shopping, imported from the United States.

Every day crowds of people come to the resort, which has a population of only 7,000, to hunt for bargains at the Hornsea Freeport Shopping Village. The owners say they will attract one million visitors this year.

Many leave the Freeport clutching clothes, shoes and other goods which they could not normally afford. But although the prices are low, both the owners of the site and the companies which have branches there are happy with the deal.

The success of the Freeport stems from the retail trade's habit of overproducing and of constantly changing its range of goods.

Last year's styles, surplus stock known as 'overmakes', and slightly defective items all find their way to Hornsea.

Hornsea Freeport is the first and only shopping centre of its kind in Britain but it is unlikely to keep this unique status for long. Other companies have plans for a freeport near the M25 around London and for another in Somerset.

The Hornsea Freeport has developed gradually since 1987 when Peter Black Holdings, based in Keighley, West Yorkshire, bought a pottery in the town together with its shop.

A Peter Black executive then saw a freeport in Maine, USA, where many well-known firms had opened branches, and the company decided to reproduce the idea at Hornsea.

Now 10 High Street stores and companies with well-known brand names have opened branches on the 28-acre Hornsea site. They include Aquascutum, Austin Reed, Damart, Laura Ashley and Wrangler.

Another six, including the book shop Dillons, will have moved in by the end of October, and it is estimated that the turnover next year will be about pounds 8m.

Julian Brown, managing director of the Freeport, said: 'It is a controlled disposal of surplus goods. It protects their brands and it protects their full- price outlets and is a way of liquidating stock.'

This is a polite way of saying that because Hornsea is away from conurbations it is just the right place to sell cut-price goods.

Companies such as Laura Ashley do not want these products turning up on market stalls opposite their outlets in the big cities.

In the Aquascutum store at the Freeport a cashmere coat which would normally cost pounds 1,220 is reduced to pounds 425. A raincoat which would sell in the West End of London for pounds 435 can be bought for pounds 119, and sweatshirts are slashed from pounds 40 to pounds 15.

At Laura Ashley, children's dresses for the 3-4 age group are reduced from pounds 33.95 to pounds 16.95, while at Austin Reed some men's suits which normally cost pounds 395 can be bought for pounds 149.

It is left to individual companies to decide how much to reduce prices. Although most are cut by 30-50 per cent, the fact that some shops can lower them by more and still make money may reveal something about the profit margins enjoyed by certain High Street stores.

The companies that have shops on the site pay the owners a percentage of their turnover rather than a proportion of their profits.

This is a typically canny move by Thomas and Gordon Black, the two brothers who are joint chairmen of the company founded by their father.

The Freeport is just a small part of the company's business. It also manufactures footwear, produces toiletries and cosmetics for chain stores such as Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer, makes vitamin pills and runs a distribution business.

The customers appear enthusiastic. Jean Francis, 22, from Leeds, who had just bought a pair of Wrangler jeans reduced by more than a third, said: 'I couldn't get this sort of stuff elsewhere. I've got another pounds 30 to spend and it will all go.'

Like many of the people who come to the Freeport, she was on holiday in the area. But as well as tourists, the Freeport is starting to attract local people and what are known in the trade as 'destination shoppers' from as far away as the East Midlands.

The centre is also developing leisure sections, which include a collection of birds of prey, a miniature village and a children's playground, producing a curious atmosphere somewhere between Butlin's and Bond Street.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most