One of the UK’s leading shopping centre operators, Sovereign Centros has this week taken over the running of intu’s largest asset, the Metrocentre in Gateshead, heralding a new era for the premier North East retail and leisure destination.
The company will asset manage the centre on behalf of the Metrocentre Partnership, while Savills will take on the responsibility for the on-site property management.
Sovereign Centros said it wanted to “inject new life” into the centre and confirmed it had a number of exciting plans in store going forward with a potential £25 million available for future investment.
It has also made a commitment to invest in the retail park adjacent to the centre and bring in some new names to enhance the existing offering.
The centre’s continued attractiveness has been underlined by world famous Hamleys toy store and Next Beauty and Home launching recently while Sky also will be opening an exciting new concept shortly. Meanwhile, a number of existing retailers have expressed the desire to upsize and the Metrocentre Partnership will work closely with them to achieve their aims.
Chief Executive of Sovereign Centros, Chris Geaves commented yesterday: “This is a very important day.
“We are delighted to be taking the centre over.
“There are clearly challenges for us all at this time but we want to take the centre back to where it was as ‘The Metrocentre’, which the local community was always very proud of.
“Our aim is to inject new life with vigour with different uses to ensure that it remains the place to come to for a very long time.
“We have a number of really good and exciting ideas.
“We are in discussion with a number of existing retailers who want to upsize, which goes to show how well they trade and we have a number of new exciting concepts who want to be represented.
“The Partnership are making the additional finance available, initially £25 million to enable these things to happen.
“The adjacent retail park, which is an important part of the overall offer, needs some attention.
“Again, we have some good ideas to freshen this up and bring in some new names.
“The strength of this asset is supported by a strong shopping-hungry catchment who enjoy free parking, the ease of access of getting to the centre and we are going to do our best to make sure we satisfy them.”
News of Sovereign Centros’s appointment comes almost 34 years to the day since the centre first opened.
The Metrocentre was the brainchild of John Hall, a miner’s son who acquired the site for £100,000.
When it first opened its doors to the public on October 14 1986, it became the largest shopping centre in the UK.
Mr Geaves continued: “It’s quite clear when you look back at the evolution of the centre that Sir John Hall, always had shoppers at the heart of his ideas.
“How visitors felt at every point in the centre was clearly very important to him.
“It wasn’t just a place where people shopped, it was a place where people went to be entertained.
“When you look at shopping centres now, in the climate we are in, it’s quite clear they can’t exist as just a shopping destination.
“They need to offer more. Centres like this need to offer a complete day out experience.”
Martin Healy, Director for the Metrocentre Partnership commented: “We were delighted to launch the consent solicitation last week. It demonstrated the support of our Noteholders at this time. The commitment will ensure that the initial business plan envisaged to develop and expand the offer can start to be implemented. To do this we have put in place a team which we are confident will take the asset forward, building on its enviable reputation and we look forward to working with them.”