Fashion giant Next has signed deals with retail property group Intu to open new-concept beauty halls.

Next will open the shops, which will also carry home and women’s fashion lines, in former Debenhams branches in Intu’s malls in Gateshead’s Metrocentre, Milton Keynes and Watford.

While some retailers have scaled back their store estates and are suffering heavily following the coronavirus lockdown, Next has been a strong performer and is taking the opportunity to build its business further.

The health and beauty category, where now-ailing department store groups have traditionally been powerful players, is seen as one such opportunity for Next. The UK health and beauty market is anticipated to grow by 8.8%, or £2bn, by 2024 according to GlobalData.

Intu said the Next openings, the dates of which have yet to be decided, are welcome news as shoppers return with confidence to its centres following the easing of lockdown.

An Intu spokesperson said the signings showed that Intu provides locations “that brands want to invest in”. 

The spokesperson said: “This new partnership shows how important flagship destinations are to the future of retail. We are very impressed with Next’s ambition for its new concept.

“There are many positive movements in retail and confidence within the industry that will see further announcements and good news for our shoppers.”

Next has already revealed plans to open beauty stores in other former Debenhams anchors in malls run by property group Hammerson.