Thursday, January 6, 2022

News: National company spots vacated Rotherham retail unit

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A large Rotherham retail unit that has had many uses in recent years is vacant again, but another national chain is working out how to take it on.

Since Homebase at Parkgate Shopping closed a decade ago, the large unit has been used by Best Buy, Kiddicare and as an outdoor sports store.

In 2014 JD Sports Fashion plc took on the lease of the vacated 45,000 sq ft Kiddicare store. It has been used as a clearance outlet for the company's outdoor brands such as Millets and Blacks.

JD went on to submit plans to enable the large unit to be subdivided into four separate units, each with their own entrance, but these works were never carried out. Instead, JD opened in the 15,000 sq ft unit that was previously occupied by Mothercare and the Millets outlet was closed down.

Now a new planning application shows that the Frasers Group is eyeing up the vacant store.

Founded by Mike Ashley in 1982, Frasers Group is now a collection of the world’s most iconic brands - notably Sports Direct, Flannels, GAME and USC.

The plans, drawn up by Jigsaw Planning, show how the unit would be transformed with the installation of a mezzanine comprising of 22,400 sq ft retail floorspace (Class E(a)) and additional 20,400 sq ft gym.

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The main operators would be Sports Direct and Everlast Fitness Club (In 2014 Sports Direct bought out the LA Fitness chain of gyms and underwent a rebranding).

Plans also show large space for designer brand retailer, Flannels, along with smaller space for Evans Cycles and GAME.

As the proposals would take the retail space of the unit up to nearly 90,000 sq ft, and the site is classed as out of town, a retail assessment and sequential test is also included.

Sequential tests ensure that development is located in the most sustainable location first (usually in town centres), before other, less sustainable locations are chosen.

As the applicant is looking for a large unit where a gym and retail store can be co-located, vacant units and undeveloped sites in Rotherham town centre and other local centres have been discounted, mainly for being too small. The sequential test concludes: "there are no more sequentially preferable sites within allocated centres that are suitable or available to accommodate the proposed development"

A retail impact assessment indicates that proposals would divert trade, mainly from the existing Parkgate Shopping Park (£7.29m), but adds that this would be "trade currently going to the existing Sports Direct store, which will be closed to facilitate the proposed development."

Meadowhall would also see some trade diverted to the new proposed unit (£5.28m), as would Rotherham town centre.

The assessment concludes: "Using the luxury and sports goods market share information, we have assumed that £2.12m will be diverted from Rotherham Town Centre, against a total turnover of over £140m; this amounts to an impact of just 1.5%."

The development of the vacant unit is the third attempt from Sports Direct to expand in Rotherham. In 2016, the group was looking at the 51,000 sq ft mini-warehouse vacated by B&Q to use for a number of its brands. It is now "the largest car retailer in the whole of Yorkshire" operated by The Trade Centre Group.

In 2018, Sports Direct applied to install a mezzanine level for a gym at the current Matalan store at Parkgate.

Frasers Group's unaudited interim results for the 26 weeks to 24 October 2021 showed that revenue increased to £2,339.8m, in comparison to £1,893.3m in the same period of the previous year. Statutory profit before tax increased to £186m from £106.1m.

Frasers Group website

Images: Google Maps

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