Merry Hill hails year of evolution with over 330,000 sq ft of new deals

Sovereign Centros has reported a landmark year at Merry Hill, one of the UK’s top ten retail and leisure destinations, with 65 leasing deals covering more than 330,000 sq ft completed across the year. The destination also increased its sales – 2023 exceeding 2022 by 7%, and December up 6.5% year-on-year – while footfall rose by 9.4% in the 12 month period.

In total, the 65 leasing deals done – which includes 30 brands that opened at Merry Hill in 2023 – represent more than 30% of the destination’s units. New retail stores came from the likes of Nike Unite and KENJI, while Rituals completed on a lease that will see them open this month. It was also an important year for the evolution of Merry Hill’s leisure offer. The new leisure quarter anchor Hollywood Bowl, and family-favourite pan-Asian restaurant Wagamama, both opened, as did ASK Italian’s first new restaurant in 3 years. They have been joined by the UK’s first Sides fried chicken restaurant outside of London, and a second site at Merry Hill for Starbucks.

In addition to the 30 new openings, four further brands exchanged at Merry Hill with a 2024 launch to follow, leading with the re-anchoring of the former Debenhams. 57,000 sq ft of the ground floor will be occupied by lifestyle, technology, and entertainment retailer, Harvey Norman, and experience and community driven fitness operator, XTRAFIT, has taken over 40,000 sq ft of the first floor, making its UK debut at Merry Hill. Wingstop secured one of the final spaces within the leisure quarter, and, like Harvey Norman and XTRAFIT, will open later this year.

In addition to Merry Hill’s strong footfall performance across the entire year, it also benefitted from positive growth comparing December 2023 and December 2022. The 2% increase was significantly ahead of UK benchmarks within shopping centres, which were widely reported to have declined year-on-year.

Graeme Jones, Director at Sovereign Centros, commented: “2023 was yet another successful year for Merry Hill, one in which we further evolved the experience for our visitors by attracting best-in-class operators across our retail, dining, and leisure portfolio. Merry Hill’s strength is exemplified not just in the volume of new leasings, renewals, and regears achieved – having over 30% commit in one year is vindication of the work done in 2023 – but in the quality of the brands we can introduce as the most important regional destination in the West Midlands. The results for footfall and sales are telling us this evolved offer is starting to resonate with Merry Hill’s customers, and we will continue to push this ambitious approach for the destination throughout 2024, and beyond.”

The remaining 31 deals completed in 2023 covered a series of lease renewals and regears, as dozens of Merry Hill’s brands re-committed to the top 10 destination.

JLL, Time Retail Partners, and Font Real Estate represent Merry Hill.