Sports Direct opens its brand new £10 million, four-floor store on New Street today with the promise that it is going to help to “supercharge the next generation of British retail.” Complete with brands including Sports Direct, USC, Game, Evans Cycles and Belong, the 60,000 square foot site will include “curated activation spaces and interactive experiences for consumers to explore.”
Dedicated areas have been set out for football, running, outdoor and specialist sports, alongside men’s, women’s and kidswear. Retailing “innovations” will include a bra studio to help women to find the right support whatever their sporting interest and a “My ID Customisation zone will enable people to customise limited edition designs”.
There will also be a permanent golf putting green, running gait analysis and a Jordan basketball performance challenge in the store which BirminghamLive revealed last week would open on May 6. Sports Direct is closing its giant two-floor store in the Bullring, close to where the 2003 shopping centre has already recently lost GAP, Debenhams, Topshop and Topman.
Read more: Huge store quits the Bullring – with plans to move to bigger premises in Birmingham
Leading brands will include Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Asios and Puma and sports and activities covered range from football – where there is a section with an artificial grass floor – to running, training, boxing, walking, dance, cycling and swimming.
The store’s front window motto will be ‘Sport starts here’ as you can see in our photo story below. But although the business is opening just 20 days short of the 40th anniversary of Aston Villa’s European Cup win on May 26, 1982 no member of that team has been invited to perform a celebrity opening. Indeed, the former Aston Villa replica shirts’ shop was on the other side of the street in the Martin O’Neill manager days until it closed down in February 2017 to be replaced by Thomas Cook, which itself closed on September 23, 2019.
Michael Murray, Chief Executive of Frasers Group, has been leading Sports Direct’s strategy prior to recently taking over from company founder and future father-in-law Mike Ashley. In his view, every future Sports Direct store above 50,000 square feet will be a “flagship,” so the new Birmingham site has 10,000 square feet of space to spare on that front.
Mr Murray said: “As Sports Direct continues to evolve and expand, we’re excited to be opening our second flagship store in Birmingham. As one of the largest cities in the UK, Birmingham follows our first flagship in London and brings with it a significant investment into the city, alongside an unrivalled offering of sports and fashion under one roof.
“Sports starts at Sports Direct; and as the leading destination for sports and lifestyle, we work collaboratively alongside our brand partners such as Nike for Sports Direct and CP Company for USC, to inspire our consumers with the best product choices and experiences through our flagship stores.”
BirminghamLive understands the Evans Cycle store in the lower ground floor of House of Fraser on Corporation Street will remain. Staff at House of Fraser, which has greatly reduced staff numbers since Frasers saved it in 2018 say they are “trading indefinitely as far as we know because the store is still making money”.
House of Fraser took on the former Rackhams in 2003 only for the group to fall into administration on Friday, August 10, 2018.
Within minutes, a brand with 169 years of history was rescued for £90 million by Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley. Although it was thought the store might then close for good, almost four years it is still open with a reduced number of floors.
Primark closed its New Street store on April 10, 2019, the day before opening the acclaimed ‘world’s biggest Primark’ around the corner on High Street. In February this year, the High Street Primark welcomed Greggs to run a new cafe on the mezzanine level.
Today’s opening looks set to be the biggest retail event in Birmingham in 2022. Next year will see Marks & Spencer moving into most of the former Debenhams in the Bullring as businesses continue to try to restructure in physical spaces whilst battling online retailers in the post Covid-19 environment at the same time that inflation and interest rates are shooting up.
Sports Direct said it was “Europe’s biggest retailer of sports and fitness footwear, clothing, and equipment. A brand driven by purpose; our mission is to use the powers of sports to champion the legend in everybody. Whatever your sport, whatever your style, and whatever your ambition, we offer the quality and choice to make anyone feel like a winner.”
Frasers Group started as a small store in Maidenhead in 1982 and said it was now a “global powerhouse.”
A spokesperson added: “As the business evolved, 2019 saw the rebrand of Sports Direct International to Frasers Group plc; a reflection of the Group’s growth and change in market identity.
“Led by Chief Executive Michael Murray, the business is set on a formidable upwards trajectory as it continues to expand with its pioneering approach to retail. With the Group’s vision, to serve its consumers with the world’s best sports, premium and luxury brands, at the forefront of its expansion, Frasers Group continues to be a leader in the industry. Frasers Group is committed to rethinking retail by driving digital innovation and providing unique store experiences to its consumers globally across its collection of established brands.”
Sports Direct will be at 18 New St, Birmingham B2 4RQ within an equal five-minute walking distance from both New Street and Moor Street Railway Stations and is even closer to the currently-suspended West Midlands Metro tram stop on lower Corporation Street (services are expected to resume in late May).
Though unconfirmed at the time of publication, store opening hours are set to be 9am-8pm Monday to Saturday and from 11am-5pm on Sundays.
Read more: Secrets of the world-beating 1964 Bull Ring Shopping Centre revealed
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