Kitchenware firm Lakeland still has Swindon in its sights for new store
KITCHENWARE chain Lakeland says it still hopes for a presence in Swindon after announcing plans to double the number of its UK stores to 100 over the next five years as part of a multi-million pound investment.
In 2011, the Cumbria-based firm pulled the plug on plans for a store at Mannington Retail Park after Swindon Council’s planning officers recommended refusal for its planning application to add an extra floor to a unit at the park.
The council said the application did not satisfy its policy to steer significant new retail proposals towards the town centre, unless the applicant could demonstrate that the proposal could not be accommodated in the town centre, or that the proposal would not have a harmful impact on the town centre.
At the time, the firm said the extra floorspace was vital for the project to work and Bob Granger, Lakeland’s director of finance and retail, said Swindon had “sort of gone off the list”.
But the firm now says that Swindon remains on the target list, should a suitable property become available.
Tony Preedy, Lakeland’s marketing director, said: ‘We’ve opened a number of stores in the M4 corridor over recent years, and are keen to extend our presence further to the West with a store in Swindon.
“It’s important to us that we pay close attention to the requests for stores that we regularly receive from our customers, and that we respond to this demand where we can.
“As we know from our existing customers, a store in Swindon would no doubt be welcomed, giving more customers access to our quality kitchenware and home solutions products locally.”
Lakeland says the 50 more stores figure is largely notional at the moment, rather than specific locations being identified, so it is not possible to state that Swindon could be one of them. It might be delivered as part of another future expansion programme.
The firm says its UK business continues to go from strength to strength, thanks in part to the continuing popularity of home baking and the culture of home-made is best, with sales in 2012 the highest in the company’s history.
New stores are set to open in Milton Keynes, Wimbledon and Stirling, as well as a second store in Edinburgh. A major expansion of its distribution centre in Kendal is envisaged, and the new stores could create up to 600 new jobs.
Swindon Council’s final version of the Local Plan, which sets out its proposed future planning policies, states that planning applications for main town centre uses, which include retail, shall be permitted outside of the town centre area .
But only if they do not harm or undermine the regeneration, where they do not undermine the vitality and viability of existing district, primary rural centres and local centres, and where a sequential approach to site selection has been undertaken.