PLANS have been revealed for the transformation of a department store in Kendal.

The new owners of the former Beales unit in Finkle Street have started work to convert the building into a space for local independent retailers and a food hall full of Cumbrian based eateries, an area for creative organisations as well as a number of flats and renovated cottages.

Geraldine Ward and her partner William Smith have launched the store’s new name Spinning Jennies and hope to breathe new life into the structure by creating a ‘shopping destination’ for residents and visitors.

The store has been empty since March 2020 after Beales went into administration.

“I’m part Cumbrian and I have a passion for Cumbria,” said Ms Ward.

“We wanted to return to what I call my homeland so we’re moving back up here.

“We’ve looked for various department stores across the country and Beales came up and we thought that’s the one for us.

“It’s quite exciting we’re having fun already.

“Kendal has so many great independent shops and Cumbria has some fantastic producers.

“And as a foodie I couldn’t resist going down the food route as well.

“Mackie Mayors in Altrincham Market is doing really well, and it struck us that Kendal could do that sort of facility.

“And I think there is room in the market for smaller businesses in the creative industries, whether they’re graphic designers, milliners or smaller fashion designers or somebody who has a business idea and they want a smaller space to get them going.”

The couple have begun removing asbestos from the premises and are measuring up floor space before they create plans for the residential and commercial spaces.

And Ms Ward said they have already received lots of interest from Cumbrian based businesses eager to be included in the development’s plans.

She hopes aspects of the project will be up and running by the summer.

“Already the response has been amazing,” she said.

“It is early days, and we are dealing with a dark cold building which needs the asbestos removing so we’re stripping out the shop fittings and getting light into the place.

“But the response has been very encouraging, and people have been coming up to us and saying how pleased they are and thanking us for buying it and doing something with it.

“Which has been quite touching.”

Ms Ward has years of experience in the hospitality industry having travelled the world training the Sheraton Hotel Group before running her own hotel and restaurants in Cumbria.

While Mr Smith has more than 50 years of experience renovating properties.

The couple have thanked residents and businesses for their support of the project.

“William and I are really grateful for the positive responses we’ve had from people so far,” said Ms Ward.

“And we’re absolutely delighted that the team that’s going to work on it is all local and we hope we can get it right.”