Debenhams will anchor the 400,000 sq ft retail and leisure extension at Intu Watford shopping centre, Retail Week can reveal.

The department store group has agreed a lease on a 113,000 sq ft unit at the development, which will add up to 16 shops, 10 restaurants and a nine-screen Imax cinema to the Intu Watford offer. The centre, which already boasts John Lewis and Marks & Spencer as anchor tenants, will span 1.4m sq ft once the extension is complete.

CACI has predicted the work will propel Watford into the top 20 retail destinations in the UK.

Debenhams property director Rob Hadfield said: “Watford has been a long-time target location for us. With consistently high levels of customer requests for a new store there, the town was in our top five list of planned sites.

“The extension to Intu Watford is a great setting for a new Debenhams department store. The existing footfall at the centre is really strong and the affluent catchment is perfect for our exclusive designers at Debenhams portfolio of brands.”