THE developer of a multi-million pound retail park said it remains “extremely optimistic” about the future of the development, despite one of its biggest occupiers pulling out.

DIY giant Wickes has withdrawn from the development, located on the site of the Guyson’s International factory in Keighley Road, Skipton.

However, Opus North, a Yorkshire-based development and investment company, said the decision had nothing to do with the 35,000 sq ft retail park, which is set to cost £6.5 million to build, and expects to announce other retailers soon.

Andrew Duncan, managing director of Opus North, said: “This was not a reflection of the park itself, but of the downturn in the DIY sector.

“Wickes’ troubles have been well-documented.

“This month it has been revealed that Travis Perkins, the owner of Wickes, has increased prices to offset soaring costs from the Brexit-hit pound as it posted a 4.5 per cent fall in half-year profits, and a number of stores have closed.

“It is vital to stress that our Skipton park, which features a 100-space car park, remains an extremely attractive proposition to retailers.

“We are experiencing high levels of interest from a number of household names, including Pets at Home, and hope to make an announcement about new occupiers in the near future.

“This sizeable investment will bring more jobs to the area and more choice to shoppers.

“Work will start on site once new occupiers are signed up, and available units range from 4,225 sq ft to 19,000 sq ft.”

Under the plans, the existing Guyson factory, where the company produces blast finishing, spray wash and ultrasonic cleaning equipment, will be extended and improved.

James Thompson, Guyson managing director, said the retail park will secure the future of the family-run company.

“Guyson will celebrate its 80th year in business next year and with three sons now in the business we are making the transition from what our grandfather started to the fourth generation,” he said.

“A multi-million pound reinvestment generated from the retail park development will enable us create a world-leading new facility fitted with the latest manufacturing technology.

“This reinvestment linked with our international growth strategy will create new job opportunities and future proof our Skipton operations for years to come.”

The Opus North development is funded by Palmer Captial, a venture capital and fund manager specialising in property/

“We are very conscious of the importance of creating developments which fit in with, and serve, the community in which they are built,” added Mr Duncan.

“That is why we take tremendous trouble to ensure that our planning applications are submitted only after extensive public consultation and after a proper understanding of what a specific town needs.”