Asset manager Addington Capital has started on site with the £3m redevelopment of Burnley's Charter Walk Shopping Centre.
The scheme will concentrate on upgrading Market Square, where River Island has signed a 10-year lease for a new unit on the corner of The Mall and Market Square, doubling in size from its current presence to 11,300 sq ft. Whilst works are being undertaken, River Island will remain open and will continue trading from a temporary store at 12-14 Market Square.
The eastern side of Market Square will be reconfigured, with outdated first floor walkways taken down, new elevations added and three new double-height retail units created, including the River Island unit.
Alex Wagstaff, a partner at Addington Capital LLP, said: "The new stores will be available from the spring of 2014 and we are in advanced negotiations with national multiple retailers for the remaining units."
Chris Gribben, general manager of Charter Walk Shopping Centre, said: "This investment made by the owners to deliver retail floorspace suitable for the modern retailer requirements, and the commitment of JD Sports, Next and now River Island in up-sizing their stores, demonstrates true commitment and confidence in the future of the town."
Cllr Julie Cooper, Burnley Council Leader says the town is bucking the trend. She said: "Charter Walk is thriving, with occupancy levels close to 100%. Retailers want to come here. The owners of Charter Walk know that and are investing about £3m to make the shopping experience even better for the people of Burnley and further afield. This is yet more good news for a town which is really going places."
Steve Rumbelow, chief executive of Burnley Council, said: "This is another vote of confidence in Burnley and shows businesses understand that this is a great place to invest. That's not a coincidence. These major fashion chains know that our two new university campuses, soon to be three when the University Technical College opens in September, mean that Burnley is getting younger."
In 2012, JD Sports increased its floorspace at Charter Walk from 3,000 sq ft to 8,000 sq ft and fashion chain Next relocated to a much bigger unit, quadrupling its store size to 20,000 sq ft, on a 15-year lease.
The project was designed by Awake Architects. Tushingham Moore and Keenan & Co are the retained retail letting agents for Charter Walk.
Hoardings went up this week ahead of a main contractor being appointed and the new units will be ready from spring 2014.