A leading figure in Teesside’s retail industry says the opening of a new branch of luxury retailer Flannels following a £3m refurbishment to the site of the former BHS store could kick-start a positive new era for Middlesbrough town centre.
The designer fashion chain – famous for stocking highly desirable labels such as Dolce & Gabbana and Prada – will fill the ground floor of the 50,000 sq ft building on the corner of Cleveland Centre.
The £3m facelift will see upper floors taken by new outlets of clothing retailer USC and high street giant Sports Direct, which has acquired the freehold of the building for £2.2m – bringing total investment in the site to circa £5.2m.
The demise of BHS had cast a shadow over the town’s retail sector, but Cleveland Centre manager Graeme Skillen believes there is increasing reason for optimism.
“The closure of BHS was naturally a blow,” said Skillen. “It was a priority for the town to fill the unit to create jobs and improve the town’s retail offer.
“So it has been a significant achievement for those involved to attract a retailer of this quality in such a short space of time.
“Flannels will be a tremendous addition to the town centre’s retail offering, and represents a huge vote of confidence for the town and the region.”
Skillen said the new branches of Flannels, USC and Sports Direct were further pointers to the town centre’s ongoing revival.
“We already have the regeneration success of the Baker Street and Bedford Street area, together with the expansion of the Holiday Inn and the exciting refurbishment of Middlesbrough Town Hall.
“The arrival of the hugely popular pop-up Disney Store has created a huge buzz within Cleveland Centre, whilst we are close to announcing the arrival of a major new national retailer too.”
The Flannels project, which has the support of Middlesbrough Council, is expected to create in the region of 50 to 60 full and part-time jobs across the three new stores.