Home Bookstore Europe’s first retail park bookshop and its famous faces

Europe’s first retail park bookshop and its famous faces

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Ellesmere Port Borders made history when it opened in March 2000 and became ‘a local sensation’

It was in March 2000 that Ellesmere Port became home to Europe’s first retail park bookstore. And for nearly 10 years, Borders has proven to be a hugely popular destination for people of all ages, whether browsing the huge range of books and CDs on offer or enjoying a hot drink at the cafe.

During this period, the store based at The Coliseum shopping park – now occupied by Next – was also a destination for many famous faces promoting their latest literary work. Among those who visited Borders to sign copies of their new releases were US TV star David Hasselhoff, former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, footballer Michael Owen and food writer Nigella Lawson.

Renowned authors such as Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Wilson also graced the store in its heyday. Borders closed in 2009 – just three days before Christmas – after administrators failed to find a buyer for the struggling bookstore chain.

READ: 18 photos that give a glimpse of life in Blacon two decades ago

It marked the end of an era. For so many book lovers, Borders was the place to go. Former CEO Philip Downers even took to social media to pay tribute to the success of the Ellesmere Port store on the 20th anniversary of its opening.

In a series of tweets from March 30, 2020, he said: “20 years ago today we opened the Borders 400 store, Cheshire Oaks. Actually next to the mall in the Coliseum Retail Park in ‘Ellesmere Port. It was Europe’s first shopping park bookstore.

“Borders and Barnes & Noble had a handful of downtown American flagships, but had built their American empires out of town. Could we do the same? Cheshire Oaks was a 20,000 square foot one-story store. News and magazines inside the front door with CD and video beyond, adult books in the center, and children and coffee to the left.

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“It was a resounding success. Sales north of £6m a year, net profit over £1m. Glasgow Buchanan St was equally profitable, but needed nearly double the sales to get there. And Cheshire Oaks was a local sensation – no one had ever seen anything like it.

“It was a book and media lover’s dream, and a real family day out. It was high tide for Borders UK. It was a fantastic store. So today let’s salute the Oaks – the Europe’s first, largest, busiest and most profitable bookstore in the park.”

CheshireLive has dug into its archives to look back at some of the famous people who have graced the store that is fondly remembered. Take a look at the photographs and see if you remember any of the book signings. Maybe you were there?