PART of a long-forgotten Liverpool hotel will be reclaimed in a multi-million pound facelift of the city?s Marks & Spencer store.
M&S?s current home, Compton House, was built in 1865 as the first UK department store by retailer JR Jeffery.
When his business failed in 1871, the distinctive site, which followed a contemporary design in Paris, was re-opened in 1873 as the Compton Hotel.
But that closed in 1927 and M&S moved in to sections of the building three years later.
But former hotel space in the first- floor facade overlooking Church Street remained separate from the high street giant?s Liverpool site, lying derelict for almost 40 years.
Under the revamp, which is now under way and believed to be costing tens of millions of pounds, M&S will bring the first floor area back into use as a stylish 150-seat cafe with unparalleled views of the city?s premier shopping street.
Store manager Julie Ridley said the revamped store will look ?stunning? when the facelift is unveiled in October.
Scaffolding already covers the site?s front which is being sympathetically restored to create an impressive new facade. Mrs Ridley said: ?We are restoring the stone on the building to preserve its heritage.
?The front will look stunning. I am really excited about our investment in Liverpool and the store. In this current climate, many businesses would have stopped working on something like this.
?Customers are really excited about it. We have set up comment boxes and people are saying they can?t wait for the new store.?
The new-look M&S will boast an extended women?s department, a reshaped food hall and a ?hot food to go? counter on the ground floor.
As well as the new cafe, the first floor will house a new homeware department and lingerie, while the top floor will feature bigger menswear and childrenswear departments.
Mrs Ridley said: ?There will be nothing in the business that customers in Liverpool won?t be able to get.?
By utilising new areas, the store will gain a fifth extra selling space in plans that took two years to finalise.
And while M&S declines to reveal the investment figure, Mrs Ridley revealed: ?This is the company?s biggest project for 2009.
? I suspect it could be the UK?s biggest development on a single site. Nowhere else is having such a grand development.
?It puts us up there with the top cities in the country.?
The store employs 340 staff, and extra employees will be recruited as the revamp opens in phases.
Further Reading/ Images and Discussion: M&S Building Thread.