THE MAN behind the takeover of Croydon Village Outlet, the former Allders department store, says he wants to bring it back to its former glory, though it would not be the 'new Harrods'.
Now officially called Zervo, the store was relaunched today, Black Friday, after a group of investors completed a takeover from flamboyant former owner Marco Cash on Monday.
Speaking to the Advertiser this morning, Clive Coombes, who is fronting the takeover, said he wants Zervo to have a "long-term relationship with Croydon", though refused to make grand promises like those of his predecessor.
"We're not gonna turn it into the new Harrods," said Mr Coombes. "Basically, it's always going to be one of the outlet sort of stores, with discount quality gear.
"We came here because it was an opportunity. It's a massive store to take on and the trading figures in the other stores nearby are really good.
"This is quite a low rent, so we can try and bring it back up to its glory."
Though this morning's 'relaunch' was slightly delayed after the building was evacuated because of a suspected gas leak yesterday afternoon, it was a low key affair compared to the opening of Croydon Village Outlet more than a year ago, with shelves restocked and 14 new staff taken on.
He said a non-disclosure agreement meant he could not say exactly how much was being invested in the store or by whom, but "significant capital" was available to invest in new stock.
The company running the store was no longer in administration after the buyout, he said, and work would be carried out in the coming weeks to repair escalators and replace the Croydon Village Outlet branding as Zervo.
Mr Coombes, who is originally from Southampton and says he specialises in the turnaround of insolvent businesses, was certainly more welcoming than his predecessor of the forthcoming Westfield-Hammerson development in the town centre.
While Mr Cash promised to bare his backside on the steps of Croydon Town Hall if the development opens on time, Mr Coombes said he definitely would not take up the commitment.
"I did laugh at that actually, when I read it, but it was very untactful."
Asked what he thought of Croydon Village Outlet's reputation, he did say it had been "very tainted" in the past, but expressed his hope the takeover could turn that around.
"We want to be involved very strongly here and we're hoping that when Westfields actually take over, we might move to a different unit, within that complex.
"At the end of the day, two years down the line, we'll have to see how its going. Hopefully we can get the turnover we need.
"We want a long-term relationship with Croydon, that's the idea, but we want to get the Zervo brand everywhere. Not just Croydon, we want to be nationwide in the end."