Retail guru and Reds fan takes his S’porter Liverpool Football Club store into Grosvenor scheme

Legendary retailer George Davies is ramping up the roll-out of his Liverpool Football Club chain with a flagship store at Grosvenor’s Liverpool One.

Davies, founder of Next, George at ASDA and Per Una for Marks & Spencer, has signed up for a 13,000 sq ft store at the £950m Liverpool One shopping centre, which is due to open in May. It will be the S’porter chain’s fourth in the city.

Set up in 1995, S’porter sells not only the team kits, but clothing and accessories, all designed by Davies. He also creates the stores’ fit-out and design.

Davies is a keen Liverpool fan and had an opportunity to train with the club when he was a teenager.

He told Property Week: ‘When I started in football retail it was just about the strip. But I understand brands and I saw this as more than just the sports strip, but about all the merchandise that surrounds the brand. I believe in theatre in retail and that’s what we will be doing at this store.’

The Liverpool One store will be on the corner of South John Street on the upper level. It will be close to Debenhams and recent signing WHSmith, which has taken 10,000 sq ft and will include a post office.

Davies’ ‘unique selling point’ will be merchandise on rails that move around the store. As shirts are customised they will move to different stations around the store before shoppers collect them in the ‘dug-out’ area.

Davies also runs the two Arsenal Football Club shops in London.

He plans to take the stores overseas to capitalise on the popularity of British football abroad and is considering China for potential expansion.

Davies is also looking at the potential for a roll-out to other UK and Irish cities. CB Richard Ellis advises S’porter.

Davies said: ‘We are looking at expansion. There are fantastic opportunities for clubs if you see how many countries support champion league clubs.’

Liverpool One has been criticised for the slow pace of lettings, but Jenefer Greenwood, Grosvenor retail strategist, said: ‘There has been a noticeable upturn in the speed that retailers have been working on legal documents and shop fitting negotiations in order to capture the opening of the first phase on 29 May.’ Twelve units have been signed in the last two weeks.

Ciaran Bird, head of UK retail at CB Richard Ellis, who is advising Davies and Liverpool Football Club, said: ‘One of the world’s biggest football clubs opening a store within a shopping centre in the heart of their own city will bring a new dimension to the footflow of a scheme.’