Huge bargain stores TK Maxx and Sports Direct are moving into the Grosvenor Shopping Centre injecting a massive boost to the mall and city centre at large.
Work has started on a £5m-plus conversion to bring the stores into Paddock Row where units have been kept vacant pending the deal which has now been signed and sealed.
Originally it had been hoped a Beales department store could move into this area of the mall but the plan fell through in 2012, much to the disappointment of centre managers.
The 23,000 sq ft TK Maxx and 16,500 sq ft Sports Direct – with 15- and 10-year leases respectively – are big footfall drivers, offering branded goods at knock-down prices.
A new glass atrium will be created to bring in light and create the ‘wow’ factor for the double-storey entrance ways, with Sports Direct located on top of TK’s. When both open in 2015 it will mean 90% of the mall will be occupied.
Roger Gorham, director of Bride Hall, which co-owns the centre along with The Carlyle Group, said: “We’ve started on site now. We started work last week. We concluded the deal with Sports Direct. I secured the funding.
“We will be providing access to the retailers just before Christmas to take the units to fit-out and they will then open in spring next year. It’s about a six-month work programme.”
“The back end of Paddock Row has been looked at for years. The Beales scenario, we were close to that, but that deal didn’t happen.
“The TK Maxx deal and Sports Direct deal has. We can drive footfall because TK Maxx and Sports Direct are massive footfall drivers and therefore we will see a benefit not just to that scheme but also to the rest of the shopping centre.”
Mr Gorham, who is backing the Business Improvement District proposal for Chester city centre, added: “It’s the creation of quality space.
“We are knocking together small retail units that were built in the 60s to create units that current retailers want in terms of size.”
Tony Kay, owner at Kay the Jewellers located in the centre, said: “This development will undoubtedly further strengthen the city centre retail offer for shoppers.
“We’re really excited. The redesign is dynamic and refreshing and will help make the centre an even more enjoyable environment for visitors.”
The news has also been welcomed by Katrina Michel, chief executive of Marketing Cheshire, who said: “A great vote of confidence in Chester as a shopping destination and great news for lovers of fashion and sport.”