Big fashion chain wants store in Royal Priors

An “international fashion-value retailer” is looking to open a store in the Royal Priors Shopping Centre.

In a planning application the owners of the Leamington centre said the major retailer is “keen to take space”.

But the owners of the shopping centre are keeping tight lipped about the retailer until the deal is sealed and have declined to comment on speculation that it could be TK Maxx.

It is understood that the size of store being planned is unlikely to attract the likes of Primark.

When the Courier asked TK Maxx about the speculation, a spokesman said: “This is not something TK Maxx can confirm. However, we are always exploring potential locations to open new stores.”

The new store will take up the empty former HMV store on the upper mall and use part of the roof car park above it.

A similar size store opened in January by TK Maxx in Eastbourne created 45 jobs.

Royal Priors manager Gerry McManus said: “We are talking to prospective retailers but until the planning process is finalised we really can’t say anything.”

He said the Royal Priors needs to evolve to meet changing needs and added: “It’s been a tough time over the last few years but now we are starting to come out of it and we are seeing a number of retailers looking at Leamington.

“We’ve got a fantastic town centre here. We’ve got the big national retailers and fantastic independent shops and that’s been the real strength of Leamington.”

In documents supporting the application submitted to Warwick District Council planners it said: “Whilst the centre is successful, beyond the Marks & Spencer anchor store, the retail units are relatively small, restricting the attractiveness to a number of potential retailers.

“Royal Priors now has firm interest from an international fashion-value retailer keen to take space.

“The requirement for a minimum 1,800 square metre store cannot be accommodated withing the existing retail units.

“Leamington shopping centre is, as many others, under pressure from out-of-town developments, large regional centres and also on-line trading.

“It is important the vitality and attractiveness of Leamington town centre is maintained and enhanced by retaining existing businesses and securing new retailers.

“If approved the new retail brand will encourage footfall to the whole town centre.”

If the store gets the go-ahead it will see the loss of 56 parking spaces at Royal Priors.

But the planning application said it will not cause a parking problem, stating that even during the busiest periods, including Christmas, Easter and Saturdays, there are generally around 70 spaces free.

It said the Royal Priors has an existing 470 parking spaces and there are 1,500 spaces at council town centre car parks and 1,000 on-street spaces and that the loss of spaces will amount to a cut of 2.2 per cent in overall available spaces.

And in the application it said: “The proposed reduction in spaces at Royal Priors will have no detrimental impact on Leamington town centre and even at peak trading times spare car parking will still be available.”

Royal Priors is owned by Coal Pension Properties Ltd, which helps pay former mine workers’ pensions.