Debenhams to 'boost town trade'

By Dan Santy Friday 09 November 2012 Updated: 21/11 11:43

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Buy photos » An artist's impression of how Rugby's Debenhams store at Elliott's Field retail park will look. (s)

DEBENHAMS' arrival in Rugby will provide a huge boost to trade, town leaders have said.

The popular department store will anchor the £18 million revamp of Elliott's Field retail park, north of the town centre.

It comes after the Observer first reported on plans by property company Hammerson to extend the park - creating space for 15 new stores as well as refurbishing existing buildings.

Securing Debenhams marks a major coup for retail in Rugby, with the huge 60,000 sq ft department store to sell cosmetics, womenswear, menswear and homeware, and will also feature a café and restaurant.

Robin Richter, chairman of Rugby First, has long wanted to see department store like Debenhams set up in the town centre.

While not be directly in the town centre, Mr Richter said having it at Elliott's Field was the next best thing.

"It is good news and I have to look at the positive, and that is that I would rather have it in the borough than not at all," he said.

"They looked at the town centre which they have to do but there is simply not the space for the footprint they want so Elliott's Field is the only place it can go."

Rugby Borough Council leader, Craig Humphrey, was equally excited.

He said: "For too long residents of Rugby have had to travel elsewhere to shop in the likes of Debenhams, but now it’ll be on their doorsteps.

"Rugby is the fastest growing town in the West Midlands and I’m delighted we’ll have the sort of quality retailing the town deserves."

Debenhams is the first new name revealed for the redeveloped Elliott's Field. It is expected to create around 120 full and part-time retail jobs for the area.

Property company Hammerson bought Elliott's Field in March last year and from then began drawing up plans to revamp the site.

Coun Humphrey added: "Elliott’s Field is our most established edge of town shopping location and there are no planning restrictions on the types of goods that can be sold there.

"The retail park was in need of investment and it was good news when Hammerson bought the site last year and committed to redeveloping it."

Consultation on the design for the new-look park will take place this winter.

Development manager for Elliott's Field owner Hammerson, Tom Cochrane, said: "Attracting one of the UK’s most successful department stores demonstrates confidence in both our vision for retail in the town and the consumer catchment.

"Having a full-line Debenhams in Rugby will retain retail spend within Rugby and reduce the spending leakage to other regional destinations.”

Debenhams has been keen on setting up a store in Rugby for a number of years, according to spokesman Gareth Dougherty, who said its location near to major roads will make the store accessible to the wider Warwickshire area.

He added: "We have worked closely with Hammerson to deliver what we both believe will be the evolution of a shopping park into a fully-fledged retail destination."

A planning application for the store will be made next year.

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