• River Island to open a new 9,110 sq ft anchor store
  • Retailer to relocate within the centre and upsize by 260% from its Boutique store
  • The Grafton is nearing the completion of a £28.5 million refurbishment programme

River Island has signed to open a new full-sized store at The Grafton, Cambridge’s only shopping destination to offer a retail, leisure and F&B mix. The fashion retailer is relocating from its River Island Boutique store within the centre, which is owned by LGIM Real Assets (Legal & General) and asset managed by Wrenbridge and is upsizing by 260%. The announcement comes as the 500,000 sq ft centre nears the completion of a 24-month, £28.5 million refurbishment programme.

One of the High Street’s most well-known fashion brands, River Island will open in a newly reconfigured 9,110 sq ft anchor unit, taking a prominent position within the newly revitalised Fitzroy Street mall. The space has been redesigned to meet the popular fashion brand’s specification requirements, as part of the refurbishment to create new units, attract new retailers and increase footfall to the centre.

Frances Baker, Property Director at River Island, said: “It’s been great to be able to work with the team behind The Grafton to design our new larger store. The new space will include our latest look-and-feel concept and will allow us to showcase a wider selection of our most popular ranges for our customers in Cambridge.”

Investment by retailers into their stores at The Grafton further demonstrates confidence in the scheme. Recognising the potential of the Cambridge market and its presence at The Grafton as a great potential for improved sales, the Debenhams store is currently undergoing a significant refurbishment. The retailer will introduce its new ‘beauty hall of the future’ concept, upgrade its F&B offer and make improvements to the store fit-out. It will also introduce a number of new cosmetic and fashion brands to the store which will join the existing brand-line-up including Coast, Phase Eight, Monsoon, Ben Sherman, Levi’s, Clarins, Clinique, Estee Lauder and Benefit.

Tom Williams, Fund Manager at LGIM Real Assets, said: “It’s really positive to see retailers recognising the benefit of the refurbishment work. This has allowed us to enhance the retail offer at The Grafton and create a more appealing environment to attract shoppers and retailers. We’re delighted that River Island has chosen our refreshed centre as the location for its new store. We know that the upsized store will appeal to our catchment and the numerous students and office workers located nearby.”

The expansion of River Island’s presence at the scheme and the Debenhams’ investment into its store is in-line with the economic vitality of Cambridge and its vibrant retail and leisure sector. Disposable income in Cambridge is 30% above the national average and, across the past year, consumer expenditure in the city grew +2%, above the national average.

Cambridge is home to a diverse economy. It has witnessed economic growth well above the national average over the last five years and is predicted to continue to grow steadily. It is home to the UK headquarters of several major companies, including Marshall Aerospace, Microsoft Research and AstraZeneca. The Grafton has annual footfall of 9.5 million and the centre is ranked in the top five retail and leisure destinations in East Anglia, according to Trevor Wood Associates.

Agents for the scheme are BNP Paribas and Bidwells. Corstorphine & Wright is the architect for the project.

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