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Sports Direct looking at “lots and lots of stores”

Tom Bottomley
24 June 2021

Frasers Group’s Sports Direct is reportedly looking to open a number of new stores, including in vacant department stores, as it sees huge opportunities in the many now empty retail sites in the UK and across Europe, brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, Sports Direct unveiled its newly refurbished Oxford Street flagship store, following a £10m overhaul which includes a "FIFA Gaming Area"in partnership with EA Sports and Playstation, a "Bra Studio" – to help women find the right bra and best fit for their sport, a "My ID" customisation area and an "Infinity Mirror Cube" – the ultimate selfie booth, as well as some 140 brands. It’s a concept Sports Direct now wants to roll out.

Speaking to Property Week, Michael Murray, Group Head of Elevation at Frasers Group, called the store “a pivotal moment in an era of massive change.”

He said: “The beauty with Sports Direct is that we are in a very fortunate and agile position. We’re 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.”

Looking at the broader picture and the opportunities that have arisen across Europe, with many retailers forced to shut permanently because of the devastating effect of COVID-19, Murray added: “There’s going to be a huge push into Europe. We’ve got a five-year plan with our brand partners. We want to have this concept in all capital cities around Europe.

“There’s never been any better opportunity to open new stores. 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.”

Frasers Group signed the lease on the vacant Debenhams store in Galway last month, further signalling its intention of aggressive further expansion while there are good deals to be had.

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