Sheffield city centre needs more high-end fashion retailers, a new report by council planning bosses on the £480m Sheffield Retail Quarter development has found.
Sheffield Retail Quarter
“The city centre is noticeably lacking in a number of well-known retailers, particularly fashion stores, who are commonly seen in other major cities and to an extent at Meadowhall,” said Dinah Hope, principal planning officer, and Mike Hayden, head of planning, at Sheffield City Council.
The reported cited research from property consultancy Harper Dennis Hobbs, which indicates that the overall offer of Sheffield city centre is currently aimed largely at a lower mid-market customer.
Another property services firm, Lunson Mitchenall, has reported that the city has strong potential to attract new retailers as a result of the low proportion of retail real estate compared with national averages.
Fashion retail makes up just 7.4% of Sheffield’s retail mix, compared with a national average for a town or city of 19.2%.
The report highlighted a need for more high-end fashion retailers in particular.
“Indeed, there are almost no high-end retailers represented in the city centre, save for those with concessions in existing department stores,” it said. “The Sheffield Retail Quarter seeks to restore city’s fashion and higher-value shopping sector.”
Fargate is currently the city centre’s prime retail pitch and considered to be the closest that the city centre comes to providing a “mid-market fashion destination”. Just over a quarter of the floorspace is occupied by clothing retailers, the report said.
The area is anchored by Marks & Spencer, and is home to H&M, Topshop and Next. But the report suggested that the proportion of fashion floor space is still relatively low compared with other centres, and many of the shop units are smaller than retailers want.
The Moor, meanwhile, is a purpose-built pedestrianised value-led shopping street, where footfall is said to be relatively high but it is disconnected in terms of retail provision from Fargate.
Debenhams has a five-storey store at its northern end, while the indoor market recently relocated to its southern end.
A new phase of development is under construction in the area, next to Debenhams, where Primark and four other retailers will open towards the end of this year, followed by seven restaurants and a nine-screen cinema early next year.
The new retail quarter development aims to restore Sheffield’s “fashion and higher-value shopping sector in a series of new open streets and squares in the heart of the city between Barkers Pool, The Moor and the Devonshire Quarter”. It will also extend Fargate to attract new and larger retailers.
Plans to regenerate the city centre have been in the pipeline since 1998. Hammerson was appointed as a development partner in 2001, but withdrew in 2013.
Queensberry Real Estate was selected as the council’s development partner for the new proposals in June this year.