B&M’s warning over Leeds retail park

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A major retailer has warned it would leave a Leeds suburb for good if a planning application for a new retail park were rejected.

The chief executive of B&M has said the company would vacate Middleton altogether if it were unable to relocate from its “sub-standard” town centre store into a brand new store in the proposed new retail park on the site of Benyon House.

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The development would include Lidl, Costa Coffee and Jack Fulton in addition to B&M, and the applicants claim the site would create 140 jobs.

However, businesses, locals and council planning officers feel it could significantly harm the nearby town centre.

A report to Leeds City Council’s south and west plans panel says the town centre relies heavily on the existing B&M store, claiming it makes up for 42 per cent of spending in the town. As the store would be moving to the proposed site, the report concludes difficulties in finding a replacement tenant for the existing store could put the town centre at risk.

But, in a letter sent to council leader Judith Blake last month, B&M’s chief executive Simon Arora claimed the company would leave its existing site in Middleton, no matter what the outcome.

It stated: “The existing store is sub-standard, doesn’t hit our profitability profile/hurdle rates and does not meet our business strategy moving forward.”

A report from officers to Leeds City Council’s south and west plans panel claimed that the new site should still be rejected, such is the impact it would have on the town centre.

It said: “Should that unit not be re-occupied the impact upon Middleton town centre will be significantly adverse.”

A decision is expected to be made at the plans panel on Thursday. (October 18)