W H Smith for Sidmouth's Woolworth site?

SPECULATION W H Smith could be one of three well-known High Street retailers keen to take over Sidmouth s empty Woolworths store, has not been confirmed.

SPECULATION W H Smith could be one of three well-known High Street retailers keen to take over Sidmouth's empty Woolworths store, has not been confirmed.

Although he won't reveal the names of the three plc retailers who have made offers to take on the premises, "subject to contract", chartered surveyor Richard Heard, who is dealing with the let, said: "it has nothing to do with food or coffee shops."

Other retailers have shown interest in the 4,000 square foot shop if it were to be split into two smaller units.

In July 2001 W H Smith opened a temporary shop in Sidmouth for six weeks in an empty Fore Street shop, fuelling speculation it could be seeking a suitable site for a permanent position in the town.

A spokesman for the retail giant was unable to confirm it was negotiating a move to Sidmouth before the Sidmouth Herald's press deadline.

Mr Heard said he was surprised at the level of interest shown, but said Woolworths was "the only one of its type" of larger purpose-built stores in Sidmouth town centre.

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The main contenders were national companies "with a hundred units across the country," he said.

"They are household names. I don't think any of them would be anything other than a credit to the town. They would all fit well into the town."

Mr Heard who refused to give any hints as to what the store traded in, added: "It is not a supermarket and not Starbucks."

Whoever rents the shop will be paying close to the �50,000 a year rental guide, he added.

"I hope someone will be in place and trading by the summer. It depends on how long it takes to do the shop fit," said Mr Heard.

"I would think someone will be in properly within the next two months."

* It was the end of an era for Sidmouth when 2008 ended with the closing of Woolworths and many shoppers told the Herald how much it would be missed.

The shop celebrated its 70th anniversary last summer, having been opened on August 12, 1938.

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