EXCLUSIVE: Meadowhall boss rules out poaching John Lewis from Sheffield city centre

Meadowhall boss Darren Pearce
Meadowhall boss Darren Pearce
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Meadowhall has ruled out poaching John Lewis for a new department store – and has thrown its weight behind a role for the retailer in Sheffield’s revamped city centre.

Meadowhall has ruled out poaching John Lewis for a new department store – and has thrown its weight behind a role for the retailer in Sheffield’s revamped city centre.

Speaking about the shopping mall’s £60 million refurbishment and its plans for a £300m ‘leisure hall’ extension, Meadowhall centre director Darren Pearce revealed talks had been held with the firm in the past but added: “John Lewis is not on our agenda.”

And Mr Pearce accepted that moving the store to the out-of-town development would seriously harm the council’s ambitions for a new retail quarter in the middle of Sheffield, saying: “We recognise what an important component that is to the city centre.”

A John Lewis spokeswoman said: “​We welcome the council’s ambitious plans for the city centre, and are committed to ongoing discussions with the council about

John Lewis’s place in the scheme.”

Darren, also president of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, expressed enthusiasm about the city centre’s new retail quarter, the first phase of which is under construction. “The city centre is coming to fruition, let’s be affirmative about that,” he said.

Vital to the retail quarter is the presence of John Lewis as the main anchor tenant.

Darren says Meadowhall has held talks with the retailer in the past but is not interested in poaching the department store, because of the damage it could inflict on the middle of Sheffield.

“Of course we have had conversations with John Lewis, but the leisure hall does not lend itself to it at all, it’s got leisure and catering.

“We’ve spoken to every retailer about space over the years, but we recognise what an important component that is to the city centre.

“John Lewis is not on our agenda. It’s not even on our radar. We’re positively endorsing John Lewis in the city centre.”

Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment at Sheffield Council, said: “We are in ongoing talks with all target retailers and occupiers for the Sheffield Retail Quarter scheme, including John Lewis.

“John Lewis has a long and proud trading history here in Sheffield, and we would welcome their being an integral part of our improved, thriving and vibrant city centre.”