A businessman has taken over an empty city centre unit to transform it into an emporium of lifestyle outlets.
Building on the success of his Holy Smokes grill and bar, which brought new life to the former Luma site, Andrew Thoburn has taken over a nearby store in Derwent Street.
After eight months of renovations, the site is unrecognisable from its former guise as Shake Shack and now houses four businesses spanning three floors.
The ground floor, SB X Bad Blood, will open as a barber shop and clothing store, specialising in men’s streetwear brands such as Brixton, Abandon Ship and Hard Grind, while the first floor has been taken over by Oraculum salon and the second floor by Ouija tattoo parlour.
Andrew, who has teamed up with barber Ryan Smith and businessman John Richardson for the venture, said: “We’re trying to create a lifestyle here, and all the businesses shake each other’s hands and complement each other.
“The building had been empty for around a year and there was a lot of work to be done. We’ve stripped it right back to basics and given it more of an industrial look. We’ve had a lot of interest from people walking past, especially when we did the outside which features tattoo designs.”
Andrew has joined forces with Ryan Smith from the successful SB Barbering Academy in Lambton Street in Sunniside for the barbering section of the business.
Ryan, who also runs Smith’s Barbers in East Boldon, said “When I first got into barbering, people tended to disregard it, but over the past couple of years there’s been a massive rise in popularity. We have apprentices coming from across the country to attend the academy and there’s a couple of really talented lads who’ll be working here.”
Meanwhile, Oraculum, run by Annie Ridley and Maddie Young, has moved from its old base in Frederick Street to the more prominent location. It will also feature beauticians and a tattoo laser removal specialist.
Andrew, who formerly worked at the family’s Thoburns fruit and veg empire, believes the city centre is on the cusp of a renaissance. As well as investing in Holy Smokes, he is looking for premises with a view to opening a second nightlife venture.
He said: “I definitely see this area as having the potential to be like Manchester’s Northern Quarter with its independent businesses. It’s something that should be encouraged by everyone. Sunderland is a city in transition. It’s tough in business, I’ve learnt that, but there’s great potential here.”
The building will officially open for business on July 30.