With sites agreed for a further five stores, Debenhams is close to becoming a 120-strong empire. The plans will bring its development pipeline to 16 and, by 2007, the chain will have 116 stores - four shy of its medium-term target of 120.
The latest acquisitions are in Newport, Gwent; Blackpool, Lancashire; Harlow, Essex and in Newry and Craigavon in Northern Ireland.
In Blackpool, Debenhams has reached an agreement with Academy Land Blackpool, owner of the Hounds Hill Shopping Centre, to take a 6,040 sq m store that will anchor a planned 18,580 sq m extension to the scheme.
In addition to the new anchor, the scheme - which will double the size of the mall - will create several flagship units and 200 additional car parking spaces. The extension is scheduled to open in autumn 2007.
At Newport in Gwent, Debenhams has signed up to anchor the proposed extension of the Kingsway Shopping Centre, which is being undertaken by Rhys Newport, a partnership between Dawnay Day and Lehman Bros. The store is scheduled to open in 2006 and will trade from 6,965 sq m over three floors. Planning consent already exists to extend the Kingsway centre into a 46,450 sq m scheme, including a 7,000 sq m foodstore, a 1,370-space car park, 40 shop units, an 84-bedroom hotel and 74 residential units. Donaldsons advised Debenhams and King Sturge represented the city council.
At Harlow in Essex, Debenhams has signed a deal with the Sapphire Retail Fund, managed by Stannifer, to take the 6,970 sq m two-storey anchor unit in the 23,225 sq m extension to the existing Harvey centre. The extension is due to open by spring 2006. King Sturge is letting agent.