Car showroom operator Rockar is to open its first store outside the South East on the ground floor of Next in the Arndale Centre, Manchester.
The showroom operator, which sells Hyundai cars, will take up a large area of the retailer’s ground floor space facing Exchange Square tram stop, opposite the Corn Exchange and the National Football Museum.
The site will be Rockar’s first in the North West and only its fourth in the country.
It already operates sites at Westfield Stratford City in London, and Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent. The company, founded by former Dixon Motors chief Simon Dixon, has a service centre off the A206, also in Kent.
The units in Westfield and Bluewater are intended as ‘digital’ stores, where potential buyers can see a range of models via interactive screens and its Car Finder website.
The vehicles will not be available for immediate test-drive due to the location of the site, with staff instead displaying the vehicles and directing customers to local Hyundai dealerships where cars can be purchased.
A planning application for the scheme has been submitted to Manchester City Council for approval. Rockar will act as a concession operator in the space and will display a number of vehicles at the unit, alongside touch screens for customers.
There will be no net increase in the store’s floorspace to accommodate the showroom, according to planning documents prepared by Q+A.
“It is important that the Arndale Centre, as a key retail destination within the city, and Next are able to continually improve its long-term viability by enhancing the range of facilities on offer in order to meet customer demand and expectations,” said the planners.
“As such, [Next is] seeking to widen the range of complimentary facilities within the unit with a use that is becoming increasingly popular within such locations.”
The vehicles will be delivered to the unit via existing service access on Withy Grove and Shudehill Street, and it is anticipated these will be refreshed monthly.
Next declined to comment.