Derby Enterprise Growth Fund has today announced a £160,000 grant to support furniture retailer Lee Longlands’ investment plans in the city centre. Birmingham-based Lee Longlands recently announced its intention to invest £1.7 million in the former Midlands Co-operative department store in East Street at the heart of the city centre’s St Peters Quarter Business Improvement District.
The four-storey 66,000 sq ft store has stood empty since the Co-op moved out of the building in April and Lee Longlands plan to create 35 new full and part time jobs including managerial, design and sales staff. The new store is due to open on Boxing Day – selling furniture, lighting, carpets, linens, accessories, cook-shop items and small electrical appliances.
Future plans include making use of the 15,000 sq ft warehouse facility in the building’s basement to operate the company’s new online retail offer, managed from Derby, and creating up to eight additional new jobs. The £20 million Derby Enterprise Growth Fund is part of the government’s Regional Growth Fund and run by Derby City Council. It aims to support growth and job creation in businesses through a mix of loans and grants.
Leader of Derby City Council Cllr Paul Bayliss, who chairs the DEGF panel, said today: “This is an iconic building at the heart of St Peters Quarter and it was vital that we attracted a high quality retailer to drive footfall to this part of the city centre.
“I hope that this grant approval sends out a clear message that Derby is serious about supporting new investors into the city and creating much needed local jobs for local people.
“It also shows our commitment to existing businesses in the city centre that we support their efforts, particularly through the St Peters Quarter and Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement Districts, to drive footfall back into the traditional shopping areas of the city centre.”
Lee Longlands Financial Director Darren Campo continued: “The support from the Derby Enterprise Growth Fund was the deal clincher in our decision to come to Derby.
“We will be investing heavily both in the refurbishment of the building and in the marketing of the new store. We are confident that this will drive significant footfall into the city centre with knock on benefits for all our neighbouring businesses.
“We are therefore delighted that Derby City Council has recognised the wider positive effect that our plans will have on the city centre and have supported us through the Derby Enterprise Growth Fund.”