The owners of Sports Direct have signed a deal to take over the former BHS shop in Coventry city centre.
The building will become a huge new Sports Direct store, which will also house USC, Evans Cycles and GAME as well as a Belong gaming arena when it opens later this year.
The store, on the corner of the Upper Precinct and Smithford Way, has been empty since summer 2016.
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for jobs, regeneration and climate change said: “This is absolutely great news. The former BHS store is a big shop in a prime location, right in the heart of the city centre. It’s a real boost that it will be filled by this leading retailer, bringing new retail destinations to our city centre.
“It shows the confidence that the company has in the city and at a time that has never been more challenging for retail and for high streets, generally.
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“I’ve seen the plans and this is real, no scrimping investment. The building will be brought back to life and will be fit for the way new generations like to shop. It will look great against the investment we have made in Upper Precinct and Market Way and just like our work there this is the best of the old and the best of the new.
“Our city centre has withstood all of the recent knocks – and there is lots to be positive about. We have more people living in the city centre, a number of new independents and this good news about real new investment that will create new jobs.
“We have also opened up some much-missed views of Broadgate and Market Way by removing some clunky late additions. There is still lots to be done, but city centres evolve and that’s what’s happening now.”
Historic England classified the building – and its canopies in particular – as Grade II-listed in 2018.
The store was designed by Art Deco architect George Coles, (1884-1963) who was one of Britain’s pioneers of cinema design.
In 2018 there were rumours that two national retail chains were bidding to take over the store, but no announcements were ever made, and the building continued to sit empty.
Alex McMillan, Group Head of Freehold Property at Frasers Group, said: “This new site in Coventry, demonstrates Frasers Groups’ confidence in our elevation strategy and commitment to opening new retail destinations throughout the UK.
“The purchase of this site, further highlights our dedication to bricks-and-mortar and raising-the-bar for retail whilst offering unrivalled brands and experience.”