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New beginnings for the former BHS at Legal & General’s The Grafton Centre

Image for New beginnings for the former BHS at Legal & General’s The Grafton Centre

  • H&M store to expand and upsize by 60% introducing new Home concept
  • PureGym signed and new F&B food quarter, Food Social, unveiled
  • Increased investment into The Grafton now totals £28 million

Swedish fashion retailer H&M is set to expand its store at The Grafton Cambridge and introduce the H&M Home concept to Cambridgeshire. The popular high street brand will expand into the ground floor of the former BHS store where it will be joined by PureGym, opening a fitness club, on the second floor. Work around the former BHS unit will be completed with a vibrant F&B quarter on the first floor, to be branded Food Social. The space will be created especially for the local community; a food and leisure destination dedicated to creating new experiences and shared memories.

Owned by LGIM Real Assets (Legal & General) and asset managed by Wrenbridge, it was recently announced that the investment into the refresh of The Grafton has been increased by £10 million, taking the total outlay to £28 million. The increased investment figure will go towards the introduction of the new food quarter. Food Social will complement the existing F&B tenants and the 8-screen Vue cinema which, combined with PureGym, will strengthen the leisure economy within the centre, making it a prime dining and leisure destination for locals and students of the nearby located Anglia Ruskin University.

Tom Williams, Senior Asset Manager, said: “It is vital to be a proactive owner and we strive to take a hands-on approach in the management of The Grafton and its ongoing refurbishment programme. We recognise the importance of investing into improving the centre and the need to respond to the ever-changing retail environment. This active and flexible approach ensures that we are able to respond to what our customers and occupiers want and deliver a better experience and improved platform. Consequently, we’ve increased our investment into the refurbishment to help deliver a new and unique leisure offering for Cambridge to be delivered through the reconfiguration of the former BHS. This is a key aspect of the refurbishment programme and the new announcements demonstrate both existing retailer and new operator confidence in the scheme.”

PureGym has been granted planning permission to extend the second floor of the former BHS. The affordable, no contract gym membership brand will be opening a 17,500 sq ft gym and will offer a high-quality service including a series of free fitness and strength classes to members.

Duncan Costin, Property Director at PureGym Group, said: “PureGym will offer something new to The Grafton. Our brand has a unique offering that will appeal to the active lifestyle environment within Cambridge. It’s a great time for us to join The Grafton, our new fitness offer will complement the existing leisure and the new Food Social F&B quarter, as part of the centre’s refresh.”

Upsizing from its 17,815 sq ft unit, H&M is taking over the ground floor of the neighbouring, former BHS store, increasing by 60% to 28,570 sq ft, with fit out in two phases. The first will see menswear, womenswear and kidswear move into the former BHS unit. Following the refurbishment of the existing unit, the 3,230 sq ft H&M Home concept department will open later this year.

The Grafton is the only shopping destination in Cambridge to offer a retail, leisure and F&B mix. With 9.5 million annual footfall, the 500,000 sq ft centre has an affluent and growing catchment with 20% more people in the most prosperous ACORN categories compared with the national average. There are over 30,000 students in the city, plus some 12,000 office workers within a 10-minute walk of The Grafton, adding to the diversity of the customer base.

The £28 million refurbishment includes major improvements to the shopping environment throughout, upgrading entrances, flooring and roofs, to create a bright and modern environment for visitors to enjoy. Plans include enhancements to the centre’s retail line-up through the reconfiguration of retail space and creation of new units and anchor opportunities. The refurbishment of The Grafton is being project managed by Wrenbridge, a London and Cambridge-based developer, with projects across East Anglia and the South East of England. The agents for The Grafton Cambridge are Strutt & Parker and Bidwells.