The opening of a new shopping mall at Romford's former Debenhams store has been delayed.

The Recorder reported in September on plans for Aklu Plaza to fill the Market Place unit vacated by the department store chain.

Aklu Miah, chairman of the proposed mall, hoped "flagship" brand Home Superstore would welcome customers before Christmas.

Romford Recorder: Aklu Miah spoke to the Recorder about plans for a new shopping mall at the former Romford DebenhamsAklu Miah spoke to the Recorder about plans for a new shopping mall at the former Romford Debenhams (Image: Archant)

But the opening date has been pushed back to early 2022.

A spokesperson for Aklu Plaza said: "We are slightly behind with the scheduled opening of the store as originally planned.

"This is due to various reasons, including suppliers not being able to deliver goods in time and a shortage of staff."

But a fish mela, dubbed by organisers as "Europe's biggest", will be held there between November 15 and 21 from 10am to 9pm.

The fair will act as a taster event for customers, the spokesperson said.

They added: "We thought since there has been a delay in opening the store, we are hoping to make better use of the space."

When open, Home Superstore will operate on the ground floor and offer world food and household essentials.

Part of the first floor will feature around 20 to 25 outlets selling items ranging from Indian clothing to jewellery and cosmetics, as well as a food court offering a range of global cuisines.

The second floor is earmarked for homeware, as well as a children's play area and prayer room while the third floor could be used for events if planning permission is granted.

Aklu Miah told the Recorder in September that his proposed new mall would "give Romford a boost".

He said: "There are quite a lot of shops that are empty so I reckon if this works, I don't think any of the shops will be empty."

Debenhams closed in May after being open for more than 60 years and the Shadwell resident said its availability led him to create Aklu Plaza.

"Something like Debenhams doesn't go away every day. Because of Covid, there aren't many people who want such a massive retail area.

"When I took it, some of my friends thought I was a bit crazy but what can I say? You have to gamble in life.

"I took a gamble and I want to try it out and I hope the whole community supports me."