Wednesday, October 8, 2014

News: JD takes on large Parkgate store

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JD Sports Fashion plc, the leading retailer and distributor of branded sportswear, fashionwear and outdoor clothing and equipment, has taken on the lease of the vacant 45,000 sq ft store at Parkgate Shopping in Rotherham, with industry insiders predicting that it is part of the expansion for the Bury firm's new Ultimate Outdoors fascia.

Kiddicare, the retailer of baby products, recently closed its Rotherham store at Parkgate. The award-winning online retailer was acquired by Morrisons in 2011 for £70m and was the first step in developing the Morrisons online business. However, the business was sold earlier this year for £2m to Endless LLP, a leading investor in non-core acquisitions, who promptly closed all but the original store. Endless recently offloaded Kiddicare for an undisclosed sum to Worldstores, the UK's largest pure play online retailer in the home and garden category.

Morrisons retained the leases in the former Best Buy stores and recently said that it was working to dispose of ten store leases. Now seven off-market transactions on former Kiddicare stores have taken place which has seen an agreement by Next to acquire stores in Hayes and Enfield with JD Sports agreeing to acquire units in Rotherham, Nottingham, Southampton, Merry Hill and Aintree.

Retail Week reports that JD will add more than 200,000 sq ft to its specialist outdoors fascia, which at present only trades from one store in Preston and online.

The JD group reported profits of nearly £20m as sales increased 27% to £721m in the six months to August 2. It owns outdoor retail specialists Blacks and Millets and acquired Ultimate Outdoors Limited, which previously operated as an independent setup, for £835,000 in February. The first store opened in July bringing outdoor brands under one roof providing customers with a one stop shop for outdoor clothing and equipment. In addition to Blacks and Ultimate Outdoor own name brands, Tiso and Alpine Bikes also stock their range in store along with Trek Cycles who operate a concession.

Peter Cowgill, executive chairman at JD Sports Fashion plc, said last month: "As the name suggests, we believe that this fascia and website can be the destination of choice for any outdoor consumer as it provides easy access to our full Outdoor offer, both technical and casual.

"We believe that, where possible, consumers' decision making benefits from having access, both instore and online, to a broad product range both in terms of price points and technical specification as different products are designed for different performance levels. We believe that our new Ultimate Outdoors proposition provides the customer with this access and choice.

"To date we are still only trialling one store in Preston, together with a trading website, and it is too early to make an assessment of performance. However, we are looking at options to extend the store base subject to the availability of cost effective property in appropriate destinations."

Owned by Hercules Unit Trust (HUT), which is advised by British Land and managed by Schroders, Parkgate Shopping is one of the largest retail parks in the UK, home to over 40 shops and attracting around seven million visitors a year. It is 100% let with recent openings by Poundland and Wilkinson. The unit operated by collapsed mobile phone retailer, Phones4u has been taken over by network operator, EE.

Ultimate Outdoors website
Parkgate Shopping website

Images: Ultimate Outdoors / Facebook

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