A NEW £15m Primark store is due to open at a shopping centre in Sunderland today, bringing more than 100 jobs to the area.
The budget fashion store, with 37,000 sq ft of retail space, stretches over two storeys and has created a vibrant new entrance on High Street West.
The new anchor store will bring an additional 111 jobs to Sunderland, along with the 146 employees transferring from the city’s former store.
Andy Bradley, centre director at the Bridges, said: “The new store has transformed the Walworth Way Mall, which has been given a new focus towards enhancing our already growing fashion offer at the centre.
“Primark has a wide appeal across all ages and the opening is another great example of our fantastic high street offer and that the Bridges is the place to be to meet all your fashion needs.
“Today clearly demonstrates we’re delivering on our promise, despite tough times, the Bridges is committed to investing, expanding and developing in the heart of Sunderland.”
The past 12 months has seen the centre open a new Krispy Kreme coffee bar, the second in the North East, as well as a store for designer clothing label, Superdry.
It has also expanded its retail space for Topshop, Internacionale and the Body Shop, creating more than 160 jobs at the centre.
Gerald Jennings, portfolio director responsible for the Bridges, said: “This year at the Bridges has been fantastic; we’ve increased our retail space by a further 60,000 sq ft after the completion of the new Primark, and we have continued to cement the centre as the heart of retail in Sunderland.
“Earlier this year, Topshop and Topman upsized to an impressive 8,400 sq ft due to growing customer demand for more fashion lines. In addition, we have welcomed leading fashion brand Superdry into the Bridges when the retailer opened a 4,600 sq ft store, its first in Sunderland.
“I’m pleased to report retailers in the Bridges continue to trade well, despite a challenging economic backdrop, and because of this we are able to attract brand new retailers into the centre and existing retailers are looking for more space. ”
Despite a positive regional outlook, the Bridges’ owner, Land Securities, last week reported a two-thirds drop in pre-tax profits for the six months to October after the company sold off buildings to fund new developments.
The FTSE 100 real estate investment trust (Reit) also confirmed that the value of its retail portfolio, which includes some of the UK’s largest shopping malls, had fallen during the period.
Land Securities has pursued an aggressive development strategy during the past two years and has a series of central London office and regional retail projects under construction.
Rob Noel, Land Securities’ chief executive, said that the window for construction had lasted longer than the company had initially expected.
Land Securities’ chief executive Robert Noel said: “We continue to deliver on a clear plan, and this is driving high levels of activity across the business.”