Discount retailer linked to Bay retail park

The former Mothercare store at Wren Park retail centre in Torquay

The former Mothercare store at Wren Park retail centre in Torquay - Credit: Archant

The discount retailer Home Bargains has been linked to the empty Mothercare site at Wren Park retail centre in Torquay.

The arrival of the national brand would be good news for Torbay Council which owns the shopping complex.

A planning application has been submitted to the council to lift a restriction on the sale of food and drink at the store to allow the trader to carry its full range of goods.

Documents with the application from TDA – the council’s economic development company – name Home Bargains as the potential occupier.

Mothercare closed after the national baby and children’s goods retailer went into administration at the end of 2019.

The other stores at the shopping centre off Brown’s Bridge Road are Boots, Outfit and Next.

The separate site is next to The Willows which has large stores run by Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer.

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A report says reuse of the former Mothercare store by Home Bargains would create its first outlet in Torbay with around new 50 jobs.

Currently the nearest is at Newton Abbot and the chain is expanding across the South West.

The application is to allow the sale of food and drink on around a third of the floorspace.

The Wren Park retail development went ahead after permission was granted at an appeal in 1992.

A condition restricted the goods to non-food retail only, but was updated to allow the sale of baby food by Mothercare.

Restrictions on food and drink sales are put in place by planning authorities to limit competition to ensure food stores and existing shopping centres remain viable.

A planning and retail assessment by consultants Quod says the retail warehouse market is having to change by accepting other uses and rental values have fallen. It says the Wren Park unit has had limited interest despite extensive marketing.

The report says the Home Bargains business model is to sell branded goods cheaper than elsewhere, with around two-thirds of sales from regular lines and the rest changing regularly.

Goods include health and beauty, medicines, baby, household, toys and games, pet food, home furnishings and ornaments, seasonal products, food and drink and a limited clothing range.

The report says the varied ‘value product offer’ with the full range including food and drink is an essential part of the retailer’s strategy, and it would not be viable to exclude any from a store.

It says the addition of food and drink sales to the store would not cause significant harm to other shopping centres.

If permission is granted, the store would have a major refit and could be trading in early 2021.

The company behind Home Bargains was established 40 years ago by Tom Morris, and is now one of the biggest privately owned companies in the UK.

It has 540 stores and plans to expand to more than 1,000.

A decision will be made after public consultation on the planning application which ends on Wednesday, September 30.

Home Bargains was asked about its plans but declined to comment.