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Strand Centre acquisition 'vote of confidence' in revival of Douglas retail centre

Sunday, 07 August 2016 14:57

The acquisition of the Strand Centre by Sports Direct has been viewed by the Leader of Douglas Borough Council Councillor David Christian MBE JP as ‘a vote of confidence’ in the continuing revival of Douglas town centre.


‘Sports Direct’s purchase of the Strand Centre and the company’s intention to invest in the site is a vote of confidence in the town’s future economic growth.  The Council, in partnership with Government, has already delivered a substantial improvement to the town centre through regeneration schemes that have created a more positive image for the capital,’ said Councillor Christian.


He continued: ‘To have a retailer with such a powerful brand presence and with plans to invest in a property in the heart of the town’s retail centre could have the power to boost trade, attract more new businesses and lead to renewed confidence among existing retailers in the surrounding area.


‘With this in mind I am encouraged to learn that Marks & Spencer is to recruit 40 new customer assistants and that a new business is soon to open at 69 Strand Street and another in Nelson Street, while a new retailer has been secured for the former Abode store in Wellington Street where re-development is now well advanced.’


Thomas Chapman of Chapman Chartered Surveyors added that his firm was handling a £2m development at 62-66 Strand Street which will provide a new retail store of some 5,000 sq ft adjoining Top Shop. ‘Interest has been shown in the new development by UK multiple retailers and we are in discussions with a number of interested parties,’ he said.


Separately, Chrystals’ commercial director Neil Taggart observed: ‘It’s great to see a buzz returning to Strand Street and the Quay. Yes, there are the larger stores that give the consumer the choice they demand but it’s also refreshing to see independent businesses setting up and adding to the mix. Prospective new entrants might actually find it difficult to find premises, which was unheard of five years ago. By strengthening the core street I hope that there is a ripple of positivity to Duke Street and Castle Street as they are arterial to the town and just as important to get the capital thriving.’


Councillor Christian continued: ‘The Council’s introduction of new tariffs for Chester Street car park – free after three Monday to Friday and a £2 flat fee on Saturdays – is producing positive results with notable increases in use and is helping to boost footfall in the town centre. Encouragingly this year’s footfall figures are substantially higher than over the last two years since data first began to be collected.’


He concluded: ‘Sports Direct’s acquisition is not only an investment in the Strand Centre, but also an investment in Douglas and in the Isle of Man.’