Sports Direct is to open at Marriotts Walk in Witney in September.

Europe’s biggest retailer of sports and fitness footwear, clothing and equipment has signed a lease on the former Debenhams store.

Set across two floors of the vacant retail space, it will sell a range of top sports brands.

It is not yet known how many jobs will be created but Marriotts Walk centre manager Simon Jones said it "promises to provide new employment opportunities across the retail spectrum".

Sports Direct is already advertising online for a casual sales assistant ahead of the new store opening.

West Oxfordshire and District Council became the new owners of the centre in January after it was bought by the council as part of plans to boost Witney town centre.

The deal cost the council £9.16 million “plus normal acquisition and due diligence costs”.

Oxford Mail: Mike Ashley of Sports Direct Mike Ashley of Sports Direct (Image: Newsquest)

Councillor Duncan Enright, deputy leader and executive member for economic development, said:  “I am really pleased to see new businesses coming to Marriott’s Walk as part of our work to boost both the shopping centre itself and the wider Witney town centre area.

“Witney Town centre is a vibrant and important shopping area for the whole district and this shows we are still able to attract big brands to increase footfall, provide a wider offer to shoppers and help our local businesses thrive.”

The council said it hopes the new flagship store will "be a real shopping destination for people of all ages".

Work will begin shortly on a total refit and brand merchandising of the Marriotts Walk  store.

Several retailers already offer outdoor activities, fitness and wellbeing at Marriotts Walk including The Outdoorist, Trespass and Fatface.

Oxford Mail: Marriotts Walk was purchased by the council Marriotts Walk was purchased by the council (Image: WODC)

Mr Jones added:  “We are excited at the prospect of Sports Direct extending our retail offer.

"Marriotts Walk already has a great mix of national high street brands and quality independent stores and the addition of a new destination store is good news for both visitors to the centre and the local economy.”

As well as providing new employment opportunities it is also expected that the store could increase footfall by up to 100,00 visitors a year.

The Debenhams store in Marriotts Walk was one of 19 branches across the country to close in January 2020.

Debenhams entered administration in April 2019 and was rescued by creditors the next month.

Oxford Mail: Debenhams closed in 2020 Debenhams closed in 2020 (Image: NQ staff)

The corner retail unit has remained vacant ever since.

In May 2022 the Witney Gazette asked what residents would like to see in the old Debenhams.

Among the 188 comments, many said a sports shop was needed in Witney.

In March, Sports Direct announced plans to focus on opening more larger stores, seeing some smaller business close or relocate.

House of Fraser Group, which owns Sports Direct, has been contacted for comment.