Developer Wykeland Group has acquired Hull’s former Marks and Spencer store and another neighbouring property in Whitefriargate.
Hull-based Wykeland has purchased the freehold of the former M&S store from the food and clothing retailer and another property, which incorporates HMV and the former New Look unit, from a Jersey-based property fund.
At 60,000 sq ft and 42,000 sq ft respectively, the buildings are the two largest properties in Whitefriargate, one of Hull’s key city centre locations and a priority area for regeneration.
The deals mean the properties are now in local ownership, with their future in the hands of a company with an exceptional record of successful commercial development, place-making and rejuvenation.
The former M&S store has been vacant since it closed in May last year, bringing to an end more than 100 years of trading in Hull. The landmark store was shut as part of a nationwide closure programme and the building was subsequently put up for sale.
The New Look fashion store closed in March this year, also as part of a UK-wide consolidation programme, while music and entertainment retailer HMV continued to trade from the Whitefriargate store prior to the coronavirus lockdown and is due to re-open. The building is known by many as the site of the Littlewoods store, which closed in 2006.
M&S had been a staple of shopping in Hull since it first opened as a penny bazaar in Hepworth Arcade in 1899 and had occupied the Whitefriargate site since 1931.
Wykeland Managing Director Dominic Gibbons said: “These acquisitions demonstrate our continuing commitment to investment in our home city. We have always taken a long-term market view and that has not been affected by the economic shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have been interested in these properties for some time but needed to wait for values to become realistic.
“Whitefriargate is a very important and historic part of the city centre. We see these properties as important assets and key to our desire to continue to play a leading role in Hull’s regeneration.
“We are working on short, medium and long-term strategies for their future use and will be discussing opportunities with stakeholders, including, of course, Hull City Council.
“We look forward to bringing the former M&S building and the space recently vacated by New Look back into use, in due course. We expect HMV to re-open in the next few weeks.”
Wykeland is one of Yorkshire and the Humber’s leading commercial developers and is at the heart of many of the region’s major regeneration projects.
The company’s flagship schemes include the expanding Melton West business park in East Yorkshire, the successful Bridgehead development close to the Humber Bridge, the @TheDock tech campus in Hull’s Fruit Market and the Treadmills mixed-used redevelopment of the former Northallerton Prison site in North Yorkshire. Wykeland is also the developer and owner of the Flemingate retail and leisure destination in Beverley.
Wykeland is part of the Wykeland Beal joint venture with housebuilder Beal Homes which is driving forward the regeneration of the Fruit Market, working in partnership with Hull City Council.
The latest phase of the Fruit Market transformation is well under way with the construction of a 58,500 sq ft head office for Arco, the UK’s leading safety company, and a 350-space multi-storey car park, for use by Arco staff, other businesses and visitors to the Fruit Market, as well as a 20,000 sq ft sister building for the Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) tech hub.
[John Meehan – Meehan Media & Comms]