THE HIGHLY anticipated opening of Bobby's has arrived as the department store makes a big comeback half a century after its departure.

The historic department store officially opens its doors to the public today, 50 years since it was replaced by Debenhams.

A private event was held at Bobby's yesterday evening, Wednesday, September 8, where invited guests could explore the store and peruse a variety of independent and big brands.

Ashley Nicholson, Director of Verve Properties who own the building, said: "People are willing Bobby's to do well and for it to work.

Bournemouth Echo: Ashley NicholsonAshley Nicholson

"Hopefully it is a success so it can help regenerate Bournemouth.

"We can create something that gives people a reason and a purpose to come to the town centre that might otherwise have been lacking.

"We want to be a catalyst of change. This can be a 52-week-long benefit to the town.

"It is a relief that we are nearly there.

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"A lot of people have worked very hard in a very short period of time to make this happen.

"I am really thankful and grateful for everyone and the effort they have put in."

Although the department store opens to the public today, the revamp has not finished as more retailers are set to arrive later this year and in the summer of 2022, according to Ashley.

But today the first eight elements have opened in the store.

Bournemouth Echo: South Coast Makers Market productsSouth Coast Makers Market products

This includes Bobby’s Beauty Hall, full of global brands as well as a dedicated section for local, sustainable and conscious beauty, Drool, the first food hall devoted entirely to dogs, and the South Coast Makers Shop, amongst many more new additions.

Sarah B, creator of Biscuits by Sarah B, was one of the traders in the South Coast Makers Market section of Bobby's.

She said: "I think it is the most amazing opportunity. People have finally worked out that a shopping experience needs to be different.

Bournemouth Echo: Sarah B decorating biscuitsSarah B decorating biscuits

"Last year it was all about Amazon, but people have come out to support local."

The reintroduction of Bobby's has received a postive response from many across the conurbation. 

Deputy Leader of BCP Council, Cllr Philip Broadhead said: "The new Bobby’s has the potential to be game changing for the future of Bournemouth Town Centre. To bring together culture, entertainment, beauty and experience into one, high end offering is hugely symbolic of what we want to extend to the whole of the high street.

 "We’ve already seen international press around this new exciting venue. It’s helped our area get amazing recognition. Now I’m really looking forward to seeing it succeed."

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Paul Kinvig, chief operating officer of Bournemouth Town Centre BID, said: “Towns and cities across the country will be looking at the Bobby’s building as what you can do with imagination and commitment in relation to these old department store buildings after many of them closed down.

“It is a great day. People have to support it and they (Verve) have to make it work but today is a day we should be pleased and proud that Bournemouth has been able to attract a company like Verve Property.”

Mr Nicholson added: "It is going to take a us a long time to finish as there has been a lack of investment in the building.

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"We hope people will be patient with us until we can deliver. Bobby's has a lot of nostalgia and warmth in the town."

Bobby's opens to the public at 10am today, September 9.