Flying Horse Mall gallops into new future

London & County (Nottingham) LLP has acquired the FH Mall in Nottingham city centre, and is planning on giving it a new look – as well as reverting back to its original name of the Flying Horse Walk.

The London-based property investment and development group has acquired the FH Mall from UBS Global Asset Management (UK). The shopping arcade, which is currently home to keynote stores including Vivienne Westwood, Atomic and Berketex, has been a firm fixture in Nottingham’s retail city since it originally opened as a shopping centre in 1988.

Simon Blair of London & County says: “We are constantly looking at investment opportunities all over the UK and the FH Mall was offered to us just before Christmas last year. We feel the mall has huge potential. We have big plans for change and as a starting point, we are intending to revert back to the old name of the Flying Horse Walk, which  is how it is best known.

“We are also going to be revamping the look of the mall, both inside and out and we hope to be reinstating the iconic white horse on the Poultry Street entrance. When the previous owners rebranded the mall, they tried to make it contemporary, but we feel it has not really worked and instead, the exterior looks very clinical. We now want to put our own stamp on it.”

Already the mall has attracted a new retailer in the form of George Thornton Art which has moved from its previous base in Hockley.

Mr Blair said: “There are some really basic tactics that we have implemented immediately to attract new retailers. It has been as simple as finding the right letting agent and putting up vinyl advertising signage in the units offering them to let.

“These were things that weren’t being done before. In the short period of time since we took over, we’ve already attracted a new tenant in the shape of George Thornton Art, which proves that it works. We have also identified a number of other opportunities and hope to attract a café deli to one of the prominent vacant units. This will be very important for the walk, as it will create activity and increase footfall – which is vital for the retailers already there.”

The London firm is to convert two vacant floors above the arcade into student housing, comprising 16 rooms.

Mr Blair said “Footfall is better than people would probably perceive of the mall; we found that on our first visit in January when some of the tenants were too busy to speak to us as they were serving customers! January was not a particularly good time for retail in the city, so it was really encouraging to see that customers were still flocking to the centre.

“I see great potential for the mall now. When you look at Nottingham on the whole, the city has always been right up there on the retail rankings. Things have slipped over recent years, but with the current plans to update the Victoria Centre and Westfield getting ready to move here, we now feel we have to up our game. We are right in the heart of the city, and we fit perfectly between the two big centres and can offer something different to our shoppers, such as independent retailers. We are really looking forward to launching the new look mall to the public over the coming months.”

The Flying Horse Walk is being marketed by Nottingham property agency FHP.

Ben Tebbutt, retail partner at FHP said: “Flying Horse Walk deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Bridlesmith Gate and The Exchange Arcade because it should be seen as one of Nottingham’s most discreet and upmarket retail locations. It perhaps hasn’t had the prominence it should in recent years, but I firmly believe that is going to change in the hands of a dynamic new landlord who clearly appreciates its potential.

“Flying Horse Walk is an historic name, and it is a popular retail thoroughfare which already has a mix of iconic brands, such as Vivienne Westwood, and respected local retailers who inspire loyalty, such as Canopy. Put that together with a range of art galleries and fashionable gift shops and you have what I believe is a major retail opportunity ready to be exploited. The new landlord obviously sees it that way, and together we are ready to put Flying Horse Walk back on the map of must-see shopping destinations.”