Sports Direct to open in place of Ipswich’s former BHS in 2021
- Credit: Archant
Plans for Sports Direct to take over the vacant BHS department store in Ipswich are still ongoing - though the opening has been delayed until 2021.
Frasers Group, which owns chains such as Sports Direct, Jack Wills and House of Fraser, bought the Buttermarket store at the start of the year.
The large unit in the town centre has been vacant ever since BHS collapsed in 2016 after several years of multi-million pound losses.
Frasers Group confirmed it had taken over the store in February, with the firm planning to invest in traditional brick-and-mortar stores on the high street.
A spokesman said at the time: “This is the strategic vision of the business as it aims to meet the demands of an ever more sophisticated consumer who is increasingly looking for not only good value, but an enhanced shopping experience.”
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As part of the takeover, Frasers Group planned to open a Sports Direct unit, as well as stores from its fashion chains Flannels and USC.
It is not clear whether Sports Direct, Flannels and USC would have separate shops with the large store being divided up, or whether they would be departments in one large unit.
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Sports Direct already has a large store open in Carr Street in Ipswich, though under the plans it would close as the Buttermarket unit’s prime location closer to the Cornhill would likely attract more customers.
It was initially hoped that the new store would be open at some point this year - but a spokesman for Frasers Group said: “Plans are still underway to open these stores in 2021.”
The spokesman did not confirm the opening dates for the new stores.
At the end of September, shopfitters Sloane Curtis set up barriers outside the vacant department store as contractors began work on refitting the building.
Sarah Barber, Ipswich Borough Council’s portfolio holder for the town centre, said she is eager to see the vacant store being filled - believing its location would attract more shoppers.
She said: “Any new store opening is a show of confidence to Ipswich town centre.
“I look forward to seeing it open, especially as retail is struggling at the moment. Sports Direct is one of those stores that is busy all-year round.
“Having the store in that location will be really good. It will make a really attractive retail offer.”