SouthGate to get two new stores as Bath stays positive in face of retail downturn

January 20, 2023

The owners of Bath’s SouthGate shopping centre have hailed the decision by two major retailers to move there as a sign that the city is weathering the icy economic conditions.

Fashion retail chain Zara has agreed to open a 32,000 sq ft store in SouthGate, pictured, – the brand’s first outlet in the city – while luxury watch and jewellery retailer Goldsmiths is to relocate to a 5,000 sq ft unit from its existing shop in Union Street. 

The Zara store will be on two floors and will feature products across womenswear, menswear and homeware.

Both stores are due to open by this autumn and will join the existing occupiers in SouthGate, which opened 13 years ago and has become the city’s prime retail location, attracting brands such as Apple, Lululemon, Tommy Hilfiger and Levi’s.

As sell as more than 50 stores, the centre – owned by British Land and Aviva Investors – has also become a vibrant dining destination with 10 restaurants.

British Land head of shopping centre leasing Kate Lea said: “ZARA and Goldsmiths are brilliant additions to Bath’s thriving retail offering.

“ZARA’s decision to choose SouthGate for its first store in the city is a testament to the popularity of the destination, and the work we’ve done to make the centre as attractive and engaging for customers as possible.”

Craig Bolton, president of the Watches of Switzerland Group, UK & Europe – which owns Goldsmiths – added: “We consider a prominent presence in Bath as key to our expansion plans for Goldsmiths, and SouthGate stood out as the ideal destination from which to showcase our luxury brands to the city’s shoppers.”

Confirmation of Zara and Goldsmiths’ moves come as talks continue to convert the upper floors of the former Debenhams store in SouthGate into much-needed lab space for life science businesses.

The scheme, which has the backing of Bath & North East Somerset Council, could create between 490 and 680 full-time jobs in the building, which has been unoccupied since Debenhams closed it in May 2021. Under the scheme the ground floor would be marketed as retail space.

While Bath has not been immune from the huge changes that have devasted many high streets and retail centres across the country over recent years, property agents in the city say it has a much lower rate of empty shop units than the national average. 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) today confirmed that UK retail sales suffered their worst-ever decline last year – down 3% on 2021 and the biggest fall since ONS started recording data in 1997.

Sales in December alone were down by 1% from November – and by a record 5.8% against the same month in 2021 – as cost-conscious shoppers cut back on Christmas spending.



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