Sheffield desperately needs more top fashion shops, with clothing making up just 7.4 per cent of its stores, compared to the national average of 19.2 per cent, according to a new report.
One of the key aims of the £480 million Retail Quarter development is to put the city back in fashion as it trails behind rivals when it comes to flagship stores.
Manchester and Leeds boast shops such as Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Mulberry.
But Sheffield city centre currently has ‘almost no high-end retailers’, a new council report says.
A report by council planning bosses Dinah Hope and Mike Hayden on the ongoing progress of the Sheffield Retail Quarter proposals said it is hoped the new development could help attract well-known fashion stores to the city centre.
It said: “The city centre is noticeably lacking in a number of well-known retailers, particularly fashion stores, who are commonly seen in other major cities and to an extent at Meadowhall.
“The overall offer of Sheffield city centre is currently aimed at a largely lower mid-market customer.
“Analysis of Sheffield’s retail offer in comparison to other cities reports that the potential for Sheffield to attract new retailers to the city centre is extremely strong, largely due to the currently low proportion of retailing compared to national averages.
“The national average for fashion within a town or city is 19.2 per cent but Sheffield has only 7.4 per cent of fashion-based retailing.”
The first phase of the scheme is set to involve the building of new offices for HSBC in the city centre by 2019 which will also include ground-floor space for retail and leisure companies.
It is intended the scheme will go on to expand Fargate, with new shops and restaurants being introduced between Barker’s Pool and Pinstone Street.
The council report, going to a meeting of the planning committee next week, added: “There is a qualitative need for a major new retail development scheme in Sheffield city centre.
“In 2010, the city centre was attracting £830.4 million per annum of total comparison goods expenditure in the city, while Meadowhall drew £670.96 million, and the city centre comfortably outsells Meadowhall in the homeware, audio-visual and chemists goods sectors, yet Meadowhall dominates the two largest categories of clothing/footwear and miscellaneous –those associated more with fashion.
“The fashion offer of the city centre, especially the quality end, is most in need of strengthening. Indeed, there are almost no high-end retailers represented in the city centre, save for those with concessions in existing department stores.
“The Sheffield Retail Quarter seeks to restore Sheffield’s fashion and higher-value shopping sector.”
The report says the ‘inadequacy’ of Sheffield city centre’s retail offer was recognised over two decades ago in a 1994 study.
In 1998, the regeneration of the city centre became a key council aim, with a masterplan published in December 2000 highlighting ‘a lack of quality shopping, particularly of high price fashion’, as well as warning that ‘continuing development in competing centres that will make them more attractive than Sheffield’.
In 2001, Hammerson UK Properties was selected as the council’s development partner and £600m plans were eventually submitted in October 2005, with the outline application granted a year later.
That scheme, which eventually became known as ‘Sevenstone’, never came to fruition and in July 2013 it was announced that Hammerson was withdrawing as the council’s development partner.
It has been replaced by the proposals for the Sheffield Retail Quarter, with regeneration specialist Queensberry Real Estate selected as the council’s development partner earlier this year.