Next retail row boss to speak in Sheffield

Artist's impression of proposed Next Home store at Meadowhall.
Artist's impression of proposed Next Home store at Meadowhall.
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The boss of a retail giant that defeated Sheffield Council in a planning row over a £10 million store at Meadowhall will be the main speaker at a business function in the city.

Lord Wolfson, chief executive of retail giant Next, will be speaking at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce’s annual President’s Dinner in the Cutlers’ Hall on Thursday, September 26.

Lord Simon Wolfson, chief executive of Next

Lord Simon Wolfson, chief executive of Next

He accused Sheffield Council of ‘closing its doors for business’ when it refused planning permission for the Home and Garden store.

Lord Wolfson went on to accuse planners of ‘shocking conduct’ and ‘needlessly’ going through a costly appeals process as the company reflected on the verdict of the planning inspector.

A Government Planning Inspector last month over-ruled the council, saying the store, to be built on land at Vulcan Road, would have little effect on the city centre and would be ‘particularly beneficial in an area where local communities suffer high levels of unemployment’.

Speaking after the announcement, Lord Wolfson said: “Sheffield City Council should stop wasting its time trying to prevent investment in the city and instead focus on revitalising the city centre. The commercial heartland of the city continues to fall further and further behind the other great industrial cities of Britain.

“Leeds has built the Trinity Centre, Birmingham the Bullring, and Manchester the Arndale Centre. Liverpool, Newcastle, Leicester, Bristol, Derby and others continue to revitalise their commercial centres.

“Meantime what has the city’s executive team done for Sheffield’s retail centre?

“My view as a shopkeeper: not much.”

Sheffield Chamber president Jon Stewart said: “With an inspiring personal story to tell, a new development in Sheffield, and the possibility of bringing more than 150 jobs to our city, Lord Wolfson will be an engaging speaker.

“Sheffield’s retail industry is a topical issue and I’m sure Lord Wolfson will provide plenty of food for thought for guests on what the sector needs to do to achieve growth.”

Simon Wolfson was appointed a Conservative life peer in 2010.