Hope for town centre as new Sports Direct opens

Sports Direct in Great Yarmouth town centre.

The new Sports Direct opened in Great Yarmouth on Friday, July 16. - Credit: James Weeds

There was hope on the high street in Great Yarmouth after a major national retailer opened its new store.

Sports Direct, the UK's biggest sports retailer, has moved into the former Marks and Spencer store - which had been in the town centre for over 100 years before closing in 2015 - on King Street.

Sports Direct on Market Place

The new Sports Direct, which is taking over the former Marks and Spencer unit, which closed in 2015. - Credit: James Weeds

On Facebook, the store received a string of positive comments.

"Has a lot more clothing range than Gapton," commented Mason James.

Barry Ellis added: "A worthwhile building being used again as an ongoing asset to the town centre.

"Here’s hoping it brings increasing footfall to Great Yarmouth."

New signage for Game

Game will be relocating from their Market Gates unit into former Marks and Spencer along with Sports Direct. - Credit: James Weeds

At 9am on Friday, there was a steady flow of people waiting for the shop to open.

One man, who was holidaying in Great Yarmouth, said: "I suppose it's a good thing for the town if the shop has been empty for so long.

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"I use Sports Direct quite a lot in my hometown, so I think it will be great for locals."

Paul Englefield, 46, the manager of the new branch, commented on how smoothly the opening of the store had gone and how excited he was for the branch to be in the town centre.

King Street with new shops.

The new Cex to the left and the new Sports Direct and Game to the right. Could this help increase footfall to the town centre? - Credit: James Weeds

More stores to fill

Currently, there are ten empty units in Great Yarmouth's town centre.

  • Argos - closed since early 2020.
  • Taco Bell - closed in early 2020.
  • Cex - closed in June, following a fire.
  • Greenwoods - closed in 2018.
  • Game in Market Gates - relocated to new Sports Direct unit on Friday.
  • Two-Necked Swan - closed since 2007.
  • Spar - closed in 2016.
  • Newsagent / Diecast model supplier / Betting shop - closed for several years.
  • H Samuel - closed in 2019.
  • Palmers - closed in 2020.

Another woman, who also didn't wish to be named, said: "It is very nice to see this old shop being used again.

"Now we just need something to take up the old Palmers unit, like a Primark or something."

It was announced in December 2020, that the former Palmers store was earmarked for a library and university campus as part of a bid for government funding.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council said of Palmers: "The purchase of the building was confirmed at the PR committee on July 13."

There is currently no timeline in place for the development of the building.

Empty shop unit.

The former Argos store, which relocated to Sainsbury's earlier this year, has been empty since the first lockdown. - Credit: James Weeds

The former Taco Bell in Great Yarmouth.

The former Taco Bell site has been closed for just over a year. - Credit: James Weeds

Empty Greenwoods store.

Greenwoods has been empty since 2018, but the property was taken over my Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust to open as a Heritage Centre. - Credit: James Weeds

The former CEX building.

The former Cex building has been empty since June, after the store caught fire. Cex are moving closer to the market square. - Credit: James Weeds

The empty Game unit in Market Gates.

Game has recently moved to the new Sports Direct store on King Street. - Credit: James Weeds

Empty shop unit.

The former Two-Necked Swan has been closed since 2007, but has permission for a retail and housing complex. - Credit: James Weeds

Empty unit in Great Yarmouth.

This property was a former newsagents, diecast model supplier, and betting shop. It has been closed for several years. - Credit: James Weeds

The empty unit on the Market Place which used to be Spar.

This empty unit, which used to be Spar, has been closed since 2016. - Credit: James Weeds

Palmers Great Yarmouth

Palmers closed its doors for good in early 2020. - Credit: Daniel Hickey