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Owners of Felixstowe Homebase warehouse seek permission to share space

Homebase sign angled

Permitting food to be sold from a large warehouse store in Felixstowe town centre could safeguard its future, according to a new report.

It is feared the 1,600 sq m Homebase DIY and garden centre off Great Eastern Square could be on a closure blacklist.

Last autumn, Home Retail Group, the owners of Homebase, announced a 25% reduction in the number of Homebase stores by 2018 – though it has not said which ones will go.

The owners of the Homebase warehouse have now asked for permission to use one-third of the property for food sales and to allow the sale of all non-food goods, along with greater use of outside space to display items.

NJL Consulting, on behalf of NewRiver Retail (UK) Limited, have told Suffolk Coastal council, that its aim is to “provide maximum flexibility for the reoccupation of the Homebase unit”.

In a statement the company said: “There is no agreement to lease in place and therefore the applicant is not yet in a position to confirm the intended operator for the unit.

“Principally, the target occupier for the unit is a discount retailer similar to B&M Homestore or Home Bargains for example. These retailers operate based on a specific business model, which includes the sale of bulky goods, general non-food items and a proportion of food.

“It is a highly successful model which has resulted in significant growth in the number of stores of this format across the country, even during the recession.”

District councillors are being asked on Thursday to approve the changes at the store, which also have the blessing of Felixstowe Town Council.

A report to the district planning commitee said: “In economic development terms, the Economic Development team believes that the early re-occupation of the unit in Felixstowe in the event of closure is an important consideration and would help to ensure continued employment locally. Increasing the flexibility of use would help to ensure this. The team cannot see any reason to oppose the removal of conditions which restricts the display of goods externally.

“However, the unit occupies a ‘gateway’ site for visitors arriving by rail.

“We would therefore hope that controls are exercised that maintain the attractiveness of the site and ensure that external displays do not interfere with the car parking at the front of the store.”

Source : Richard Cornwell - Ipswich Star

25 August 2015

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