Sports Direct have acquired the former Waitrose building on Tulketh Street – but as one retail giant moves in, the future of another town centre giant – BHS – has been thrown into doubt.
The Tulketh Street site has been a huge thorn in the resort’s side for years having also previously been home to Morrisons, Lewis of Southport, Brand Interiors, and Wynsors World Of Shoes.
The building has been lying empty since it was abandoned by Brand Interiors in May 2015, but sports equipment and clothing retailer, Sports Direct, will now lease it for the next ten years and look to transform it into one of their new state-of-the-art fitness centres.
Often been described as cursed ever since it was put up for sale by Morrisons in 2004, the building has failed to hold down any occupant for any length of time.
Ongoing talks between Cheetham and Mortimer, who are advertising the property on behalf of the landowner and Sports Direct were finalised on Friday (Februay 5) and contracts were signed – meaning bosses can now set about putting together their action plan for the Tulketh Street site.
It is thought that Sports Direct will transform the building into a gym and retailing unit – making the most of the 68,000 square foot space in a deal which would see them lease the building until 2026.
The sports company already have a retail outlet in Southport based at Central 12.
Once a thriving area of town when occupied by Morrisons Supermarket, the building has found itself on the market four times in the last twelve years. Waitrose departed in favour of a move to Formby and the building was left unattended for six years before the next occupant moved in. This building sits close to the towns derelict news paper building which sadly closed down and moved to central offices in Liverpool city centre.
MP John Pugh said: “It is a big boost for the Wesley Street traders who needed an anchor store in Tulketh Street for some time.
“Although my preference would be for a supermarket there, a thriving enterprise rather than a hollow wreck is a step forward.”
Referring to a section of the Southport Development Strategy which states that there is no apparent major business interest in Tulketh Street, Mr Pugh added “It says a lot that the Nexus report is significantly lacking in good background information!”
However it is not all good news for the town centre as it also emerged this week that bosses at British Home Stores (BHS) are looking to close at least thirty under-performing stores across the UK.
Auditors KPGM have been brought in by BHS’s owners Retail Acquisitions Ltd to draw up a plan which will allow the firm to cut down the 170 stores it owns.
It is feared the Chapel Street store, thought to be one of the under-performers, could be one of the sites to go under the new cost cutting measures.
A spokesperson for Retail Acquisition Ltd said: “BHS has stated publicly many times since the acquisition that it would like to take steps to address a number of unprofitable stores. This may involve discussions with some landlords, and KPMG will help us in this process.”
“We have made no secret of the fact that like other companies we have a pension deficit that we would like to address also and we continue to take advice in relation to this complex area.
“Our turnaround plan is still in its first year. We are entirely confident that we will regain our place as an iconic British high street brand.”
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