Big brand retailer Sports Direct is to open the doors on its new 23,000 sq ft store at Olympia House in Newport in early summer. One of the most significant retail lettings in the city centre in the last five years, the imminent opening has sparked serious interest from a number of other retailers keen to be part of the redevelopment.

The sportswear and equipment retailer signed a 50 year agreement with the jv partnership of Richard Hayward Properties and the Tonstate Group that is set to redevelop the 90,000 sq ft Olympia House. Sports Direct is taking over the space previously occupied by Marks & Spencer on the upper first & second floors of the building.

Built in the 1960s, the 9-storey Olympia House previously housed the Passport Office. It currently comprises 13 retail units with six floors of offices above. The jv partners are currently preparing a planning application, for submission for the redevelopment of the office space of up to 60 residential units for private rental. In the meantime, preparation work has started on site including clearing out internal areas and removing asbestos.

Principal of Richard Hayward Properties, Richard Hayward said: “As soon as we announced that Sports Direct was to open in Olympia House, we were flooded with enquiries from other retailers eager to get on board. We are now having detailed discussions with the frontrunners and look forward to making further retail letting announcements shortly.

“There has been a lot of focus on the new Friars Walk Shopping Centre – which is due to open in September – and the lettings there, but some concern about its impact on the rest of Newport. Our experience shows that there also strong demand for space outside the scheme in the traditional retail heart of Newport, which is excellent news for the future of the city centre. “

As one of the largest buildings in Newport, the redevelopment of Olympia House as new homes will support the ongoing regeneration of the city, helping to bring residents back into the centre creating a more vibrant atmosphere and a greater sense of community.

This is one of a number of projects RHP is working on in Newport, others include a new 60-bed Premier Inn and more residential above the Tesco Express, all of which are supporting its regeneration, creating jobs and acting as a catalyst for further investment by others.