The Range secures huge logistics hub at new A14 business park
- Credit: Jaynic
Suffolk is set to be home to what's thought to be one of the largest ever logistics units in the region after a home and garden retailer secured first spot at a new business park taking shape by the A14.
The Range is expected to create up to 1,650 jobs. It will occupy a £200m warehousing unit measuring nearly 1.2million sq ft at the Gateway 14 scheme, which lies at Junction 50 of the A14 in Stowmarket.
The park - which is wholly owned by Mid Suffolk District Council and is part of the government's Freeport scheme - has exchanged conditional contracts on the freehold turnkey deal to develop the distribution unit with its development partner Jaynic.
Developers Jaynic struck a similar deal with Belgian logistics giant Weerts a couple of years ago to build a huge 800,000sq ft warehouse at Suffolk Park off the A14 at Bury St Edmunds.
The Range - one of the fastest growing retailers in the UK - operates more than 200 stores nationwide. It sells more than 65,000 products across 16 different departments, including homeware and furniture, DIY items and art supplies.
It is planning a further 100-plus stores over the next five years, as well as building its online presence. It already has two major distribution centres in the UK. The new site is aimed at meeting consumer demand in the South and South East while supporting operations across the UK.
It is hoped that building work will start on January 2023 and be completed in the autumn of the same year. A reserved matters application is due to be submitted in July.
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Infrastructure work at Gateway 14 - which has outline planning consent for a 2.36m sq ft mixed-use innovation, business and warehousing scheme - is already well under way.
The Range chief executive Alex Simpkin said: “This acquisition represents a £200m investment and is integral to our expansion plans. We were naturally attracted to the site due to its commitment to sustainability and proximity to the East coast container port of Felixstowe. The Freeport benefits that Gateway 14 provides allows us to evolve our ecommerce division nationwide and accelerate store growth."
Gateway 14 chairman Sir Christopher Haworth welcomed the deal as a "significant step forward" for the site which "demonstrates its important position in Suffolk and the wider Eastern region".
"Gateway 14 has huge potential not only for nationally important brands like The Range, but also to support local and small businesses,” he said.
Mid Suffolk District Council leader Suzie Morley said it would provide a "huge boost" to Gateway 14 and will create a considerable number of new jobs for local people.
"As the development continues, I look forward to welcoming more businesses to the site,” she added.
Jaynic development director Ben Oughton said: “Securing such a significant first occupier, only months after we started building the infrastructure at Gateway 14, demonstrates how important a location the A14 corridor has become, and is borne out by the huge interest there is in Gateway 14, with its Freeport benefits and proximity to Felixstowe.”
As part of Freeport East - one of only eight Freeports in the UK - Gateway 14 benefits from a range of tax reliefs and simplified customs arrangements.