THE people behind The Shipping Forecast have been named as the new operators of the Mello Mello building.

The former music, food and arts space, which closed last year, will, said a statement, be "transformed into a new music, food and arts space".

Christened The Merchant, by local club entrepreneurs Richard McGinnis and Lewis Boardman, who also run Chibuku and Circus DJ events, it will open in spring 2016

It ends speculation that began more than two years ago when a mystery buyer gazumped an accepted bid by Mello staff, to take on the Slater Street building.

The five-storey Ropewalks landmark has stood empty for the past 12 months apart from a brief, ill starred period in summer when it was squatted by the Love Activists.

Read: Mello Mello in shock, premature closure

Said Boardman “We look forward to adding to Liverpool’s vibrant bar and food scene with the addition of The Merchant.”

Branding for the venue has been provided by Liverpool design agency Smiling Wolf who have come up with the concept of a street level Scandinavian-feel cafe-bar, a multi-use event space upstairs and a garden to the rear presenting street food vendors all year round.

“Its been a great process working with Smiling Wolf in helping bring together all of the historic influences of this former Merchant house ” said McGinnis.

Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool City Centre BID, described it as "a fantastic announcement for what is a burgeoning independent district.

He  added: "The Merchant is another great example of an independent business gravitating to this area of the city centre and enhancing the quality of the night time economy. We have big plans for the Bold Street area in 2016 to further support its development and hopefully help attract more businesses to locate there.’’ 

The news came as Mello Mello's late night stablemate, The Kazimier, prepares to leave its base in nearby Wolstenholme Square, as does the home of Cream, Nation, to make way for the regeneration bulldozers.

"The Merchant teaser campaign will hit Liverpool this Friday," it says here.