Big names sign up for Hanley's City Sentral shopping centre
MAJOR retailers and restaurant chains including H&M and Nando's have signed up for the city's new £350 million shopping centre.
And developer Realis is expecting more high-profile names to open an outlet in City Sentral.
Floor plans reveal Next, Marks & Spencer, JD and H&M have all agreed terms to move in to the complex, which is due to open in 2015.
Discussions are also ongoing with Topshop, Superdry, TK Maxx and Sports Direct.
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Restaurant chains Nando's, Frankie & Benny's, Chiquito and Pizza Express are set to open in the leisure area, which will also include a Vue cinema.
The proposals went on show at the BCSC (British Council of Shopping Centres) Conference and Exhibition in Liverpool yesterday.
Duncan Mathieson, Realis managing director, said: "We all know about the economy and the market that we are in at the present time but we are delighted with the way the scheme is progressing. Stoke-on-Trent needs something like this.
"The lineup we have so far is very impressive and we have been working hard negotiating with firms over the last 12 months."
The firms included on Realis's floor plans are currently under no legal obligation to commit to the project but the developer remains confident none of the chains will walk away.
Mr Mathieson, below, said: "We don't believe they will and that's why their names have gone on to the plan.
"Ahead of the legal commitment stage they want to know that we are on time with the development and that we have fulfilled what we promised."
Realis has been keen to sign up retailers to the larger stores before unveiling the companies in-line for the smaller units.
Mr Mathieson added: "We will be talking to a wide range of companies. We already have some big names and you find that when one signs up another will follow.
"Stoke-on-Trent offers a huge catchment area to retailers as there is no nearby competing city.
"Firms want to be a part of this scheme."
Councillor Mark Meredith, Stoke-on-Trent City Council's cabinet member for economic development, said: "It's good to see discussions are ongoing with some top quality brands. It has always been our aspiration to attract new brands to invest in our city.
"These new stores combined with the restaurants expected to locate in the City Sentral complex will make our city a much more inviting place for people of all ages."
But retailers with stores elsewhere in the city centre look likely to shut those branches in favour of moving into City Sentral, which would leave units vacant in both the Potteries Shopping Centre and the main shopping streets.
Doug Wardle, spokesman for the traders' group the City Centre Partnership, said: "A lot can happen in the three years before City Sentral is due to open and I would call on Stoke-on-Trent City Council to consider the properties that may become vacant and look at marketing them."
The complex – which will be built on the site of the old bus station – will include 80 shops, an 80-bedroom hotel, a cinema and 1,000 parking spaces.
Shopper Lisa Bourne, aged 28, of Fenton, said: "I think that the city does need a revamp and we do lack a certain amount of shops and restaurants.
"I'd like more decent clothes shops and I am pleased that H&M are coming as we don't have one of those.
"It'll be nice to have more in the city centre and hopefully it will help revitalise the whole area."
A number of firms detailed on Realis's plans failed to respond to The Sentinel's request for information on their proposed moves.
Topshop declined to comment after claiming staff were too busy preparing for London Fashion Week, while restaurant chain Chiquito confirmed negotiations were ongoing.