- Duration: 14 months: Works commenced onsite Nov 2021
- Size: 207,000 sq. ft
- Practical completion date: November 2022
- Building owner: Hammerson
- Project management: Venture, Workman Project Management
- Architect: CallisonRTKL
- Construction: Graham
- M&E: Ramboll
- Structural Engineer: Waterman Group
When Debenhams closed its doors at the Bullring in May 2021, it didn’t take long for Birmingham’s most prestigious shopping location to attract new occupiers. The former department store will now be repurposed to play host to Marks & Spencer across the lower and mid-levels of the Bullring. And, as part of Hammerson’s major repositioning of the estate, M&S will be joined by leisure operator Toca Social, a new football, dining and entertainment brand, which has leased the entire top level. This major investment by both occupiers represents a huge vote of confidence in the resilience of physical retail. The redevelopment, managed by Venture, Workman’s Project Management Team, is set for practical completion in November 2022.
Jul 21, 2021
Early strategy work to facilitate major lettings
Venture, Workman’s Project Management team, has been involved with the project to repurpose the Debenhams Bullring store since July 2021.
At this point, the initial feasibility and vision to identify potential solutions were being discussed by owners Hammerson, along with architects CallisonRTKL, whose director Terry McGuinness was one of the original architects of the Bullring.
This early groundwork facilitated the major lettings that are now in place, and Venture will proceed to project manage the complex redevelopment of the building, allowing for the requirements of the new occupiers.
Dec 15, 2021
Physical requirements of repurposing
While it’s a common solution for vacant department stores to be repurposed for leisure usage, this project is unusual in that it features repurposing for multiple uses, including replacement retail.
The Venture team was required to address the physical requirements of the new occupiers of the building, as well as potential new occupiers who may come on board later for the single remaining vacant level. Their strategy for the repurposed scheme had to also take into account and plan for spaces to be retained as landlord’s areas for access for Hammerson, service arrangements and deliveries.
Venture’s involvement at early inception stages of the project meant the Venture team could redesign the building to create new external access to level seven and level nine. A new lift and entrance core is required directly to Level Nine from street level, enabling direct access to Toca Social.
Internally, the repurposed space also requires new escalators, and a new fire strategy, evolving from one single unit into dedicated separate fire strategies for each new zone.
Jan 17, 2022
The Venture team continues to work collaboratively with Hammerson’s Sustainability Team, following stringent guidelines which the new occupiers will also have to abide by during their fitouts.
Feb 1, 2022
Fitouts are now planned and set to take 22 weeks for M&S and 16 weeks for Toca Social.
These lead times also meant Venture had to put in place strict Agreement for Lease protocols for delivering the spaces for the occupiers according to strict specifications and timing.
Consideration had to be given to the occupiers’ “closed windows” for opening – for example if a store is ready to be opened but the timing is within a couple of weeks before Christmas, a retailer may delay opening until the New Year.
Mar 22, 2022
Repurposing a department store for leisure and retail
Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre, which opened in 2003, is Hammerson’s flagship destination and boasts 1.2 million sq. ft of retail space. It transformed Birmingham city centre when it was developed and continues to be at the heart of the city’s social, cultural and arts programme an impressive average weekly footfall of 750,000.
Once home to Debenham’s fourth-largest store, when that retailer closed its doors on 15 May 2021, it was not clear what would move in to the 207,000 sq. ft space.
However, it didn’t take long for Birmingham’s most prestigious shopping location to attract new occupiers. The former department store will now be repurposed to play host to Marks and Spencer across the lower and mid-levels of the Bullring. This area benefits from high footfall from street level as well as from Grand Central and New Street rail stations. The new store will offer a mix of food, clothing and home products.
Quoted in Birmingham Live, Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor said: “M&S is one of the most admired brands in the country, so it really is a vote of confidence in Birmingham and the city’s real estate that they have made this investment. They are a top-class tenant for the Bullring.”
As part of Hammerson’s major repositioning of the estate, M&S will be joined by leisure operator Toca Social, a new football, dining and entertainment brand, which has leased the entire top level. This major investment by both occupiers represents a huge vote of confidence in the resilience of physical retail.
Alex Harman, TOCA Social President, said: “TOCA Social are excited to bring the world’s first interactive football and dining experience to the UK’s second largest city. Bullring is an iconic destination, and we are delighted to play our part in its repositioning towards social experiences.”
The repositioning and repurposing adds to the diverse customer-proposition at Bullring and Grand Central, and introduces new tenant partners that will contribute to the vibrant retail, hospitality and leisure experiences for customers, in line with Hammerson’s strategy to ensure its destinations are vibrant evolving spaces where people and brands want to be. Both M&S and TOCA Social are due to open in 2023, following the redevelopment of the site, which will be project managed by Venture, Workman’s Project Management.
Harry Badham, Chief Development & Asset Repositioning Officer at Hammerson, said: “Repurposing this important space at Bullring & Grand Central has given us an exceptional opportunity to create not only the latest store and food hall concept with one of the nation’s best loved retailers, but also to partner with one of the UK’s most exciting new immersive social and entertainment business. Together they will offer something completely new to Birmingham and our customers as we work towards expanding and diversifying the purpose of our estates.”