Frasers Group (owned by Sports Direct International plc) have acquired the anchor building – previously occupied by Debenhams – at Foyleside Shopping centre in Londonderry.
The off-market deal, handled by property advisor, Savills, will see the opening of a new Frasers department store at the centre next year – similar to its anchor store at Victoria Square in Belfast.
Paul Wilson, Director of Retail at Savills who brokered the commented: “We were aware of the necessity for Debenhams to adapt and change its in-store offer to meet changing consumer demands and in the case of Foyleside, this was likely to require a store downsize and lease restructure.
“As retained consultants and leasing agents to the landlord of Foyleside, we were very aware of the risk associated with the Debenhams covenant and likely capital expenditure required to reconfigure the store and re-purpose the surplus space which would have been created.
“Knowing the limited pool of end users for this space and that Debenhams business was likely to enter a CVA, we pursued Frasers and successfully struck a deal to sell the freehold interest. The Debenhams CVA gave Frasers the ability to secure vacant possession from a landlord break clause, but a liquidation will speed the process.”
Bringing Frasers to Foyleside is a massive positive for the centre and the city as a whole.
He added: "Employing some 200 staff, this will replace the Debenhams with a new relevant retail offering to the centre together with a huge investment to refit the property which we hope will include the stores aspirational Flannels fashion hall.”
Foyleside is one of the largest retail destinations in Northern Ireland, with over 51 shops, cafes and restaurants.
Fergal Rafferty Centre Manager commented: “Foyleside welcomes Department store Frasers as the latest addition to its Tenant mix. In what has been a difficult trading environment in 2020, this significant investment will enhance the city centre retail offer as a whole and will reinforce Foyleside as the top regional shopping destination in the North West.
"Debenhams will continue to trade through the Christmas period in conjunction with the fifty other stores in the centre, with late night shopping until 11pm commencing 11 December with a busy Christmas period anticipated.”
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Brian Tierney has welcomed the announcement, saying it was excellent for the retail sector in the city.
“I am delighted at this news today. We were very concerned on hearing of the liquidation of Debenhams and the possibility of job losses in the local retail sector, however confirmation that we have a replacement tenant for this important retail site in the heart of the city, is really positive news," Cllr Tierney commented.
“It has been a hugely challenging and difficult time for our retail sector. The announcement today that we will have a Fraser store at the site next year is really good news for everyone involved. I am delighted the announcement has been made prior to Christmas and believe it will instill confidence in the retail sector and among the staff affected, as well as provide a much needed boost to our local economy.”