Further blow for Fargate as ANOTHER major retailer opts to move Sheffield city centre store

Fargate will be dealt a further blow later this week when another major retailer closes its doors, opting to switch its Sheffield city centre store to The Moor.

River Island has a poster in the window of its Fargate store advertising a ‘closing down sale with five days to go’.

The fashion retailer is the latest in a string of chains to opt for a switch to the ever-expanding Moor.

River Island on Fargate is closing. Picture: Ellen Beardmore / The Star.

Next and H&M have either closed or are due to be closing their Fargate outlets to move into new premises and the River Island unit could soon be set to be replaced by Metro Bank.

This has left many shoppers to wonder what the future holds for Fargate, recognised as the city centre’s main shopping hub for many years.

But it seems any such concern could be premature as council leaders have talked about rebooting Fargate with café terraces, bars and restaurants.

Sheffield Council is proposing to consult with owners and occupiers of buildings on Fargate and surrounding streets about how to give the area a new identity.

Fargate, Sheffield.

Meanwhile, the The Moor continues to boom and its latest edition, New Look, opened last month.

The shopping precinct is expected to be fully occupied by Christmas – unusual in today’s challenging retail climate.

Phil Huby, head of retail at Aberdeen Standard Investments, which owns The Moor, said recently: “There is so much going on compared to a lot of similar-sized places in the UK. In all sectors you get a sense just walking around there’s a lot going on. It’s a positive environment from a growth perspective.”

Aberdeen has pumped £120m into The Moor since buying it in 2010.

Along with revamping the shopping area, it has also built a new market and cinema.

But members of the Sheffield Property Association were optimistic that the authority’s vision to make Fargate a ‘force to be reckoned with’ again is very much a possibility.

Martin McKervey, chair of the group, said: “Nothing stays the same forever. Cities are constantly changing. The key is to understand what is happening along Fargate.

“The city has seen huge investment a very short distance away along The Moor that has created spaces more attractive to retailers. The same is happening with Heart of the City II. Retailers are moving to those locations creating new opportunities for Fargate.

“Fargate will have an incredibly bright future if landlords come together and work with the council and city centre business improvement district (BID) to create an attractive and vibrant place to visit, grab a bite to eat and enjoy a drink in the sun. We should also do more to encourage more people to live in the area.”

He added: “We need to invest in making the public areas more attractive. Some of our members, like HLM Architects, are already drawing up designs to help with this process.

“Landlords will also need to reconfigure their units. One without the other will not create the impact the area deserves. By using public money and private sector investment together in the right way the future of Fargate will be very bright indeed.

“What Sheffield does not need is to see Fargate try to hold onto a past defined by high-street brands. Retail has changed for ever. Fargate needs to celebrate and promotes its local character, distinctiveness and its contribution to the local economy.”