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Published
Oct 19, 2021
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Another ex-Debenhams store readies for conversion

Published
Oct 19, 2021

The chances of spotting a former Debenhams store site continue to diminish, albeit at a very slow pace. And the failed UK group’s former department store at the West Orchards Shopping Centre in Coventry will be next to get a new lease of life.


West Orchards Shopping Centre, Coventry


The site is the subject of a new £2 million investment to transform much of the site into a state-of-the-art entertainment venue by next spring. 

It’s part of a wider trend that sees retail space being repurposed for alternative uses, from leisure to housing.

Acquired by an unnamed London-based investor in May for £4.85 million, the 219,503 sq ft shopping centre’s former anchor store will be mostly converted to a new bowling alley and indoor adventure golf course, including a bar and restaurant. 

However, deals have also been agreed for other parts of the former store, including ground floor space for another, as-yet unnamed retailer, the owners of the shopping centre told the Coventry Telegraph. The operator said it was too early to reveal details of the partnerships.

Manager Andy Talbot told Coventry Live that the  £2 million project to enhance the centre was made on the back of market research "that asked the people of Coventry what they wanted to see in the city centre, and they said they wanted new leisure activities”.

"We hope that by putting leisure into the shopping centre, it will give people another reason to visit Coventry city centre. And that will enhance the retail offer because it's not just about shopping.”

Debenhams had operated 165 department stores until the business went into administration last December. Around 100 stores finally closed across the country in May, with many still remaining vacant.

UK property giant British Land recently said it has received “encouraging interest” from potential “high-quality” replacements to fill the still-vacant former Debenhams site at its part-owned Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield.

However, other sites have been repurposed into housing, healthcare centres or student accommodation, including those in Leeds, Gloucester and Leicester. The former Debenhams store site on The Moor in Sheffield city centre was also recently bought for £1.5 million by London property firm MHA. The company has yet to reveal its intentions.

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