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Hip opens in former Oi Polloi unit in Manchester’s Northern Quarter

Tom Bottomley
02 June 2023

JD Sports-owned Hip has opened a new 1,405 sq ft store at 63 Thomas Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, formerly Oi Polloi which closed down in March 2023.

The new Hip store will offer “a roster of highly sought-after and exclusive products” from some of the finest brands across clothing, footwear and accessories, including Adidas Originals, Nike, Stone Island, C.P. Company, Carhartt WIP, Beams Plus, Engineered Garments, Needles and Paraboot, as it does in its Leeds store at 49-51 Vicar Lane and on its website.

News of the demise of Oi Polloi somewhat rocked the industry, despite the independent having been acquired by JD Sports in May 2021 when former Chairman and CEO Peter Cowgill was at the helm, and its fate being unknown.

It was when Cowgill departed a year later, in May 2022, and new JD Sports CEO Régis Schultz was appointed in August 2022, a different vision for the independent businesses JD has acquired over the years (including Hip itself back in 2014) began to unfold. That has involved off-loading several of its acquired businesses to Frasers, including another one-time independent, Philip Browne in Norwich, in March 2023.

At the end of April, in response to rumours of Oi Polloi being gone for good, its Instagram account posted “Oi Polloi has not bit the dust” but it was “having to go into hibernation” for a while, until “like a phoenix rising from the ashes” it would “rise again”. So, it’s possible that Steve Sanderson and Nigel Lawson, who founded Oi Polloi in 2002, have something up their sleeve. Only time will tell.

Hip Oi Polloi

The fate of Oi Polloi is similar to that of Wellgosh, the Leicester-based independent that was founded by Peter Turner in 1988 and was also acquired by JD Sports back in January 2021. In March this year, it was reported that JD Sports would be converting the three Wellgosh stores, in Leicester, Birmingham and Nottingham to its Size? retail portfolio.

Hip was co-founded in Leeds by Everton Campbell and Umberto Annechini in 1987 and was considered one of the UK’s most influential independents, known for being ahead of the game. While Annechini departed the business several years ago, Campbell is still very much involved, albeit with the backing and guidance of JD Sports.

Hip opening in Manchester, especially in the old premises of such an iconic store associated with the city that was Oi Polloi, may leave a slightly bitter taste for some, but the power of Hip with the backing of JD Sports cannot be underestimated.

Alongside providing customers with top-tier products, the retailer will also offer in-store experiences and in-depth product knowledge from streetwear specialists. Customers can also order from the retailer’s extensive stock and collect in-store for £1.

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