Boost for town centre as new stores open - including Sports Direct

Posted by Thurrock Gazette on 4th Jul 2013

Grays town centre is to get a big boost with a string of new stores set to open – including big name retailer Sports Direct.

The announcement comes just a week after Grays lost another of its top brands, New Look, which opted not to renew its lease, and just days after the Gazette reported results of a town centre consultation calling for better shops and a night time economy.

Final tweaks are being made to a deal with Sports Direct, which sells big name sportswear, but that should be signed this week with the company likely to move into the unit left by WH Smith in Grays Shopping Centre.

Technology and entertainment retailer, CeX, is opening a town square store on July 15 while a flurry of independent retailers are also opening. A fishing tackle shop opens next week and negotiations are ongoing to open a butchers in the centre.

Tabish Shah, who owns Trends, which opened last week, said he sees opportunity in Grays.

He said: “We saw this as a good opportunity to bring something new to the town, as other stores are closing down. With New Look closed, there is definitely a market for women’s clothes in Grays.

“People seem pleased with what we’re offering and we’re very happy with how things have gone in the first week.”

Mike Wimble, an associate asset manager for Ellandi, which owns Grays Shopping Centre, said: “Sports Direct is keen to get into the town and trading as soon as it can.

“There’s a perception that Grays and the shopping centre, with the town having lost stores, was in a bad way and that was worrying. But we’re replacing those stores with national and local retailers. That’s key for us.

"We’re keen to work with independent retailers and help them grow their brands.

“People have been concerned with what’s going on. Now we’re in a position to give good news.”

Source: Thurrock Gazette

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