Sports Direct confirms plans for Chichester move and hints at possible Game return

Designs drawn up by Sports Direct have confirmed plans to move into a new Chichester site, whilst also hinting at the possible return of a video game store.

Sports Direct, owned by the Frasers Group, currently has a small store in North Street. However, it has plans to replace New Look in East Street, which moved out earlier this month.

A planning application has been submitted, requesting permission to respray the shopfront with paint and install new signage. The designs also include the Game logo, which seems to suggest that the UK's leading games retailer could be making a return to the city. Also featured in the drawing is luxury fashion store USC.

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Game, the UK's leading games retailer, closed its South Street store in December 2019.

Sports Direct's plans hint at the return of Game. Photo: eb designs

Sports Direct's designs suggest the implementation of a business model, similar to that of a flagship shop in the Cascades Shopping Centre, Portsmouth.

The store, which opened last October, is split over two floors and 51,000sq ft of trading space. It includes retail space for Evans Cycles, Game and luxury fashion store USC.

The latest application for Chichester has been submitted by James France, head of Global Leasehold Properties at Frasers Group.

He told the Observer that the proposed new store would also include space for a 'Cruise luxury retail' shop.

Sports Direct's plans have been submitted to Chichester District Council. Photo: eb designs

This latest development comes during a time of wholesale changes on the high street.

Following news that popular retailer Next is closing its East Street store on October 21, it became apparent that another clothing giant, New Look, could be about to move in.

New Look closed its former East Street store but this came after a planning application was submitted, requesting permission to install signage at The Corn Exchange — a Grade II listed building.

"It’s good to see that New Look still see Chichester as a positive investment proposition and wish to retain their presence on our high street," said Helen Marshall, vice chairman and CEO of Chichester's Business Improvement District (BID). Read more here

This latest development comes during a time of wholesale changes on the high street. Photo of East Street taken by Kate Shemilt

Meanwhile, internal works are underway at the old Russell and Bromley store in South Street.

The shoe store revealed in August that its closure was due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’ and speculation is rife that clothing retail company Anthropologie could be moving into the vacant shop by the Market Cross.

The Frasers Group and Anthropologie have, so far, not responded to requests for comment.

A Chichester District Council spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting retailers and businesses in both the city centre and across the district. This is more important than ever especially as our district recovers from the economic effects of the pandemic.

"To help our businesses through the coronavirus lockdowns and to help them bounce back following the pandemic, we provided Covid Recovery grants and issued millions of pounds of Government Covid-19 grants.

"We also have a variety of other schemes, grants and projects dedicated to supporting district businesses, such as; a business support contact scheme, where we work directly with all types of local businesses to offer advice and information on a range of issues; an enabling grants scheme to give small businesses the opportunity to access funding that will help them to grow and develop; a pop-up shop scheme located in Crane Street, Chichester, that gives local start-up businesses and entrepreneurs the chance to trade in a high street location without the commitment or cost of a longer-term lease and access to free online training for independent retailers and other interested businesses, with a grants scheme to follow."

The council has also developed an events strategy and programme for the district 'to help encourage more footfall'.

The spokesperson added: "Event examples include the recent Summer Street Party in Chichester city centre which was extremely successful, and the forthcoming Cross Market & More event at the beginning of November.

"We have also made improvements to our parks and gardens and city centre toilets to make shoppers and visitors feel more welcome and we have also introduced the parking MiPermit app to make it easier for people to stay longer in the city and shop locally.

"We have also been running a Shop Local campaign to encourage residents to come together in support of their local businesses and we will also be running a Christmas support local campaign.

"This includes a number of parking incentives throughout December including free parking every weekend in December in the Avenue de Chartres car park in Chichester and free parking after 4pm in the Avenue de Chartres car park for the Christmas light switch on and late night shopping events in Chichester.

"People can also select two hours and get a third free in most council-owned car parks across the district during December when using the MiPermit app:"

As part of the Chichester Vision, the council is working with partners on 'further actions for the high street', adding: "We are also working to encourage different types of businesses to come and trade in our district as part of our new inward investment strategy, which will also have knock on effects in terms of bringing more people to the city centre and wider district."