While American chicken diner Popeyes has recently given Queen Street a lift, the busy route between Cornmarket and the Westgate Centre is not as thriving as it could be.

The Topshop and Topman units remain closed nearly two years after the popular fashion chain disappeared from the nation's high streets.

In February 2021, Topshop staff said they were 'heartbroken' after being told the news the stores would never reopen again.

Read again: Construction work at the Clarendon Centre 

In a message for everyone to see on the Queen Street store window, staff wrote: "To all of our lovely customers of TSTM [Topshop, Topman] Oxford

"Thank you for all the smiles, the laughter and your loyalty to this store for the past five years.

"We are heartbroken having to close our doors forever and will miss you all very much. 

Oxford Mail:

"Stay safe, keep smiling and please support your local high street.

"Lots of love TSTM Oxford." 

At the time, ASOS confirmed it had sealed the takeover of Topshop and three other brands from the collapse of the Arcadia retail empire for £265m.

The online fashion retailer was buying Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT.

Administrators for Sir Philip Green’s retail group said Asos has paid an additional £65m for current and pre-ordered stock.

ASOS told investors that it will take on around 300 employees as part of the deal, which will not include any of the brands’ stores.

Arcadia collapsed into insolvency after pandemic closures further exacerbated the group’s troubles.

Read more: Popeyes breaks record on opening day

Now there is nothing to see at the once busy units apart from posters in the windows and homeless people using the doorways to ask for spare change.

Oxford City Council is not the landlord for the property and it is not known if there is any prospect of another retailer moving in.

Spokesman Tony Ecclestone said: "The city council does not control this property so it’s not ours to market."

Hotelier Jeremy Mogford, who is opposing plans for six new bus gates in the city, said earlier this month that in his view the reopening of the Westgate Centre in 2017 had harmed other once busy city centre streets.

He said: "We are currently witnessing the catastrophic effect it (the Westgate) has had on the original, traditional shopping streets in the historic centre of Oxford.

Oxford Mail:

"Virtually all the branded shops have relocated to the new Westgate, leaving Cornmarket, Queen Street, the Clarendon Centre, the Covered Market, Broad Street, St Aldate’s, the High Street, along with many of the smaller connecting streets virtually abandoned and a shadow of their former selves, bereft of quality shopping with many units empty."

Read again: New bus gates will be like roadblocks 

Building work has started on a new scheme at the Clarendon Centre.

The focus is no longer only retail.

In April, plans to partially demolish the centre to provide more student accommodation were approved by the council.

In addition to student accommodation, the Clarendon transformation is expected to include new retail buildings and offices, with a new public square and pedestrian/cycle access through to Frewin Court.

Read more from this author

This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF