THE ARNDALE Centre has announced negotiations with a major fashion chain – and the relocation of Sports Direct to a bigger store.
Last week the Herald reported an increasing number of empty units in the town centre as Hawkins Bazaar and La Senza closed their doors.
This week Tie Rack also revealed it will not be continuing its lease in the centre. But Arndale management says 2012 brings good news for the town’s shopping centre.
Sports Direct his currently holding a closing down sale, but this week the Arndale revealed the retailer will relocate to a bigger two storey unit within the centre.
Work is underway to combine the former Mothercare and Madhouse units into a single store which is expected to open in March.
Performance Retail Limited Partnership (PRLP), a joint venture between Legal & General Property and Strathclyde Pension Fund, and owner of the Eastbourne Arndale Centre, is also continuing negotiations with a major national fashion brand to lease the existing Sports Direct unit.
It will be combined with the former Bay Trading unit to create a bigger store.
Eastbourne hairdressing chain Jazz will also soon be opening a new salon in the Arndale.
Management at the Arndale say the good news follows the opening of Deliciously Gorgeous and Lush last year plus the relocation of both Carphone Warehouse and O2 to larger units.
Simon Russian, senior fund manager at Legal & General Property, said, “I’m delighted that we are able to give Eastbourne some very good news at the start of 2012 but am also aware that difficult economic conditions have led to an increase in vacant units in the centre.
“This is not unique to Eastbourne. It is a situation that is being seen across the country’s high streets.
“PRLP continues to work very hard to actively manage vacant units and, where possible, create the larger stores that are wanted by national retailers who would like to come to Eastbourne but cannot at present because we do not have the right kind of units for them.”
PRLP says the strong demand from retailers to come to Eastbourne is demonstrated by its proposal for a £65 million extension to the centre. It is hoped the improved shopping centre will bring a further 26 stores to the town.
The planning application to extend the Arndale along Terminus Road will be submitted to Eastbourne Borough Council in March with a view to the scheme being completed in late 2015.
However, this week has brought news of another shop closure in the Arndale.
Tie Rack will shut on January 25 as the company has decided not to renew its lease. Amanda Rolph, manager at the store for more than three years, said, “We have lots of regular customers and they have been disappointed we are going.
“It is a shame we will not be in Eastbourne, but Tie Rack as a company is doing well and the stores in Brighton and Tunbridge Wells are still open.”
Outside the Arndale Centre, other town centre shops are struggling.
Blacks and Millet, both in Terminus Road, are facing uncertain futures.
JD Sports has confirmed it has acquired the assets of outdoor clothing retailer for £20m but said under performing stores will close.
The sportswear company has not yet said which stores will shut.