// Sports Direct is “looking at lots and lots of stores” as part of its expansion plans
// The retailer is set to have stores all across Europe
Sports Direct is “looking at lots and lots of stores”, including vacant department stores, as it accelerates its expansion drive by picking up vacant space thrown onto the market during the pandemic.
Frasers Group head of elevation Michael Murray told Property Week that Sports Direct is looking “at lots and lots of stores now.”
“We’ve proven the concept works and we have confidence in our concept. Landlords want to work with us and we’ve never been in a better place with our brands.
“It’s now going to be about how many [stores] can we physically do a year? That’s the big question.”
He added that there will be a “huge push into Europe” as the business has a five-year plan with its brand partners.
“We want to have this concept in all capital cities around Europe,” he told Property Week.
Following a £10m facelift, the improved flagship store now features a bra-fitting zone as well as 100 digital screens, a selfie booth and 140 different brands.
Murray told Property Week that the store was a “pivotal moment in an era of huge change,” and that the concept would be replicated in other major locations across the UK.
Despite the fact that brick-and-mortar retail has been heavily damaged by pandemic lockdowns, Murray believes that “there has never been a better chance to create new stores” for the business.
He added: “The rents are coming into alignment with what people can afford. Landlords are starting to work with tenants on a turnover basis, and in the long term sharing the upside, sharing the downside and also contributing towards fit-outs and matching out investments.
“So there’s been no better time to roll this plan out. If we did it five to six years ago, we would have paid the highest rents in the marketplace.”
The group signed a lease for the vacant Debenhams shop in Galway last month. The move came after Mike Ashley, the owner of Frasers Group, tried unsuccessfully buy the whole department store business last year.