Five big names have been revealed as the latest to commit to Sheffield city centre as part of a multi-million pound redevelopment of The Moor.
Game, Specsavers, Blacks, Costa Coffee and Ann Summers will move in to either existing units on The Moor or to new units in the complex being built to house The Light cinema and Primark.
They will be joined by Sweat! Union, which will open a new gym above the Moor Market.
Ranald Philips, development manager for The Moor, said completing phase two of the redevelopment – including the cinema complex – would be a ‘game changer’ for the area.
“Primark opening will bring a lot more people on to the Moor,” he said.
“The cinema will bring in 500,000 visitors a year, with seven restaurants on top.
“It will change the demographic on The Moor radically. It will provide an evening economy and will be a firm focus for a leisure offer for the city centre. We have also got an offer for another very attractive leisure use in phase three.
“The Moor and other parts of the city centre just die at 5.30pm. We will be transforming that whole feel, so that this is a place to come in the daytime and evenings.”
The aim of the redevelopment is primarily to increase footfall on The Moor, and secondly to complement other projects such as Sheffield Retail Quarter to bring more people into the city centre.
And although parts of The Moor have been turned into a construction site for the past few months, that first aim is already being achieved.
“Despite all the disruption, throughout the building work, footfall on The Moor is now on a par with Fargate,” said Mr Philips.
“Over the last year it has been down about 3.2 per cent, which is very much in line with, and slightly better than, the national average.
Fargate, Division Street and Pinstone Street are down nearly eight per cent.”
Part of the reason for catching up with Fargate’s footfall is the attempt to bring something more than just retail to The Moor. One example is the Theatre Delicatessen Company, which has set up a pop-up cafe and performance space in the old Woolworths unit. The unit is yet to be redeveloped as it forms part of phase three.
Mr Philips said: “They came to us knowing about Sheffield’s theatrical legacy.
“We allowed it because it was an ideal opportunity. Rather than having a temporary lease with lower quality retailers, this is something different which fits in well with the theatrical scene in the city.
“It’s been extremely popular. It’s interesting to see how they go about it and we have enjoyed having them. It will be sad to see them go, but ultimately we need to drive proper commercial income.”
And there will continue to be a full programme of events on The Moor.
“It’s about bringing more customers on to The Moor,” said Mr Philips. We know from anecdotal evidence from retailers that it does improve their business.
“That’s what it’s all about. It’s no longer letting shops to tenants and leaving it up to them. A landlord should be part and parcel and playing its part in bringing business to retailers.”
Phase one of the project, the new Moor Market, has had mixed reviews but is gradually growing in popularity. The inclusion of the Sweat! Union gym is designed to give people more reason to visit.
“I think the Moor Market needs some internal improvements but that’s a widely-held view which the city council is aware of,” said Mr Philips.
The third and final phase involves the redevelopment of the block opposite Debenhams.
“We’ve got interest from a national fashion store for the 30,000sq ft site on the corner,” said Mr Philips.
“That will attract a lot of other tenants as well.”
One of the larger units on the Moor is currently occupied by BHS. But the retailer’s troubles mean it may be vacant before too long. This, however, is not seen as a problem.
“When BHS goes we see it as hopefully presenting an opportunity to put something better in,” said Mr Philips. BHS has been a name from the past but I’m not actually sure what their target audience has been, hence why it’s been the subject of numerous stories,” he added.
When planning the revival of The Moor, developers had hoped the canned Sevenstone project would by now have been completed.
That has not happened, but progress on the replacement scheme, the Sheffield Retail Quarter, is expected this year.
Mr Philips said: “We have a very regular dialogue with the city council about the Sheffield Retail Quarter. We are reasonably aware of what’s going on in the background, which the council can’t make public yet.
“We have consistently said we are big supporters of putting in the right size scheme providing it properly integrates with The Moor and other parts of the city. Development shouldn’t be about putting an isolated shopping centre into the middle and hoping it will work. It requires really good integration with the existing infrastructure.”
He added: “The Moor can never be the total solution.
“ Together with Sheffield Retail Quarter, that will restore the retail offer for the city that it’s lacked all these years.”
New names on their way
Ann Summers will open opposite the new Light cinema and Primark development in August this year.
The lingerie and adult retailer’s property asset manager Graham Seaton said: “I have been watching Sheffield change and develop over recent years and have seen the positive changes on The Moor. With the new development that includes Primark it now represents a prime trading opportunity for us and other retailers.
“Sheffield has a large student population that is a significant target audience for us, and we can also see that the city centre is showing signs as a resurgent retail and leisure destination.”
Sweat! Union gym will be based in the Moor Market building above the existing retail units.
The gym’s CEO Frank Reed said: “Sheffield will be our second gym in the UK and by the end of 2017 we will have opened 10. The city centre and T he Moor, in particular, provide a brilliant opportunity for us. It is a university city and has a vibrant and growing economy.
“I have spent a lot of time in Sheffield – I really like the city and I know it will love Sweat!
“Sweat! also holds social events in local bars and restaurants and we intend to do the same in Sheffield. We know people like to enjoy themselves as well as keep healthy and fit.”
Specsavers will be part of the new retail and leisure complex. It will move from its existing store in the city centre.
Sheffield store director Lorna Armitage said: “Our business has been steadily growing over the last few years and we are in need of larger premises. Moving to The Moor will allow us to increase the number of testing rooms from eight to 12 as well as take on seven new members of staff.
“We’re all really excited to move to the new premises and become part of The Moor, a vibrant and exciting part of town where there’s lots going on.”