Shops left empty for two years at Fort Shopping Centre to finally be replaced by giant store

Shoppers at The Fort have been faced with empty shop units for more than two years.

M&S closed in September 2015 followed by Topshop, Topman, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and Warehouse, all owned by Arcadia group.

Mothercare was also closed – to be replaced by Wilko in January 2016, which was followed a few months later by Primark in March 2016.

Many shoppers have since been wondering what was happening to the empty units at The Fort, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2017.

The Fort Shopping Park

Now, at last Fort bosses are revealing the plans for 2018 and there are some changes afoot, with two big new openings planned for later this year.

JD Sports is relocating to take over the former Arcadia shops with a huge flagship store.

The current JD Sports store at The Fort Shopping Park

Due to open its doors in autumn / winter 2018, the 27,000 sq ft store will be almost five times larger than the current store.

There’s no news, as yet, as to what will replace the existing JD Sports store.

The Fort Shopping Park

Soon after, there will be another new launch – a designer fashion retailer Tessuti, which will sell menswear, womenswear and childrenswear collections.

Tessuti will move in next to the new JD Sports store.

Marjan Horne, centre manager for The Fort, said: “Celebrating our 20th anniversary last year was a fantastic achievement and the expansion of JD Sports and the arrival of Tessuti strengthens the Fort’s position as we move into the first phase of a new period for the shopping park.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our customers for their patience and support whilst we go through this change to enhance the Fort’s retail offer.”

The Fort Shopping Park

What stores would shoppers like to see at The Fort?

Sasha Johnson likes to shop online and have her items delivered to The Fort for easy collection as she can park for free.

She’d like to see Topshop and Miss Selfridge return to the retail park, together with more eateries too.

Sasha Johnson at The Fort Shopping Park

“Lots of the fashion shops have closed down, it would be good to get them back here again,” said Sasha, from Hockley, who has four children, aged 12, seven, two and three months.

“I think a bigger JD Sports is unnecessary. The one that’s here already is big enough.

“It would be good if there was another restaurant here. I’d like to see something like Pizza Hut, something kiddy-friendly.”

Living in Castle Bromwich, Jodie Cummins finds The Fort handy and tends to pop in every week, often with her friend Emma Lamb.

Jodie Cummins and Emma Lamb at The Fort Shopping Park

“I can’t make it into town and be back in time for the school run so I come to The Fort,” said Jodie, a full time mum whose children are aged nine, four and two.

“I’d like to see more variety here. It’s nice to have a Debenhams but there’s not enough in the store. I think that’s the case in lots of the shops, that they don’t have much variety instore.

“You have to go elsewhere if you want more choice.”

The Fort Shopping Park

Jodie added: “It would be great to have a Disney Store and maybe a bigger H&M , I’d rather have that than a bigger JD Sports, especially as there’s also a Sports Direct right next to it.

“It would be nice to have a baby store, something like Mothercare. That used to be here but it’s not now.

“The Fort seemed better when it first opened, it seems to have gone downhill since.”

The Fort Shopping Park

Mum of five Emma Lamb added: “It’s good for families here, there’s good access for pushchairs from the car park.

“I wish there were better bus services here though.”

Natasha Folan, from Pype Hayes, said her children will be pleased a bigger JD Sports is coming but she’d like to see more for mums.

Natasha Folen at The Fort Shopping Park

“It’s a shame some of the shops have closed and been replaced with shops like Primark and Wilko ,” said Natasha, a nurse, whose children are aged six and three.

“I like shopping at The Fort and I sometimes bring the kids.

“A bigger JD Sports would be OK, I know my kids like their sports stuff.

“I’d like to see something for kids here, like Mothercare .

“If I need something for my little one, I have to go into town.”

The Fort Shopping Park

Dora Evangelou works at Primark at The Fort and would like to see more sandwich shops opening there for staff to use on their lunch breaks.

“There’s a potato bar here but apart from that, there aren’t really many healthy options for staff wanting to buy lunch, it’s all Burger King and Nando’s.

“I tend to bring my own lunch instead.”

Dora Evangelou and Julie Newman at The Fort Shopping Park

Julie Newman used to bring her nephew to The Fort when it first opened.

“There used to be a lovely (Food Court) restaurant in the corner (currently empty but where M&S used to be) where I’d take my nephew on a Saturday.

“I used to shop here at lot but when that closed I stopped coming because there wasn’t really anywhere else to eat at the time (Nando’s, Harvester, Frankie and Benny’s have opened since).

“This is the first time I’ve been here in ages.”

The Fort says it saw an 8.6 per cent increase in footfall over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend compared to Easter 2017 – a rise that’s said to exceed the 0.7 per cent national average increase for retail parks.

The shops are at The Fort?

Boots

Beaverbrooks

Card Factory

Carphone Warehouse

The Fort Shopping Park

Clarks

Clintons

Debenhams

EE

Footasylum

The Fort Shopping Park

GAME

H&M

JD Sports

Lipsy

Moss Bros.

The Fort Shopping Park

New Look

Next

O2

Oasis

The Fort Shopping Park

Poundworld Plus

Primark

River Island

Schuh

Sports Direct

The Fragrance Shop

The Fort Shopping Park

The Perfume Shop

The Works

Tui

Vision Express

Vodafone

WHSmith

Wilko

The Fort Shopping Park

What restaurants are at The Fort?

Burger King

Costa Coffee

Frankie & Benny’s

Harvester

Nando’s

Starbucks

The Fort Shopping Park

Anything else?

There’s also a Scallywags soft play centre plus kiddie cars to hire too.

There are baby changing and breast feeding facilities next to Carphone Warehouse plus free wifi and a click and collect service plus Amazon lockers too.

To keep updated on shopping news, like our What’s On Facebook page and Brummie Mummies page.


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