York’s long empty John Lewis store is set to have a new lease of life.
Vacant since the famous department store closed in 2021, the huge unit at Vangarde Shopping Park could soon be home to a relocated city shop.
Go Outdoors is planning to move there from its current city centre base later this year.
Go Outdoors, which specialises in camping gear, tents, outdoor clothing and footwear, first revealed its intention to move from its present location at Foss Bank in 2021.
According to City of York Council, the retailer was forced to move as “the lease of the existing premises is shortly to expire and the landlord has indicated that the premises is no longer available them”.
The retailer had looked at other city centre locations but found none suitable. At one point it looked set to move to the former Argos at Clifton Moor – but that is now earmarked for a trampoline park.
Nevertheless Go Outdoors launched a closing down sale in December 2022 – which has continued on and off for a year.
Now plans are in with York council to rebrand the former John Lewis store as a Go Outdoors outlet.
A huge illuminated ‘GO’ sign, fixed on timber cladding and surrounded by artificial foliage, would hide the existing John Lewis logo.
The words ‘Hello York’ in illuminated LED lettering, is proposed to go above the entrance to the store.
According to the planning application, there will also be an in-store café, located at the far end of the store.
It will be a boost to Vangarde Shopping Park. John Lewis was its flagship store when it opened in April 2014.
The decision to shut the purpose-built store just seven years later as part of the chain’s new strategy was slammed as “ludicrous”.
By contrast, Go Outdoors’ exit will leave a big gap at Foss Bank. The store is owned by Nitra Investment Holdings Limited, a property company based in the British Virgin Islands.
However, given that the landlord didn’t want to offer Go Outdoors a new lease, it suggests a plan for the building could already be in place.