Ministry of Sound to convert House of Fraser store into gym and offices
Ministry of Sound is to “remix” a former House of Fraser store in west London as flexible offices, a gym and rooftop bar-restaurant.
The owner of the nightclub, which first launched a members’ club with flexible workspace and a gym in 2018 near its original south London venue, is expected to open its second site at Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush in 2024.
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Conversion of the 115,000 sq ft department store will start at the end of summer, taking the number of House of Fraser stores closed since the group was bought by Mike Ashley’s retail empire in 2018 to more than 20.
Stores in Epsom in Surrey, Bournemouth in Dorset and Cwmbran in south Wales have all shut in recent months.
The Shepherd’s Bush project is expected to cost tens of millions of pounds with investment from Westfield and Ministry. The shopping centre operator had been looking for a partner to convert the space since 2020 when it applied for planning permission for the changes.
Lohan Presencer, the chair of Ministry of Sound Group which celebrated the 30th anniversary of its nightclub last year, said the new venue would include gyms which could host “fitness raves”, hot desks, offices and an event space for parties, product launches and conferences.
He said Ministry expected a minimum of 4,000 people a day to visit. The group’s original members’ club now has a waiting list for new sign-ups.
“We are building a genuine community and it is proving increasingly popular,” he said. “Who wants to go into a boring office? People want something that brings people together and gives them a reason to come back.”
Scott Parsons, the UK chief operating officer of Westfield’s parent group, said: “Repurposing of retail space is a good thing. With a shopping centre the size of Westfield London we will have a critical mass of leisure, retail and food and beverage and we are adding to the mix by repurposing space.”
“The 2,000 people working in the co-working space at Ministry will be adding to the footfall and sales at Westfield and those people will have hundreds of shops [and] a leisure offer right on their doorstep.”
The project emerges as shopping malls, cities and town centres search for alternative uses for hundreds of department stores which have closed in recent years.
Westfield London is in the process of finalising the conversion of an empty Debenhams store into a mix of retail, food and leisure space.
Elsewhere, department stores have been transformed into university lecture theatres, food halls, community hubs, go-karting tracks and other uses, or been downsized to take in offices or residential space.