Property firm Intu is planning a shake-up of retailers at shopping centres Merry Hill in Dudley, Westfield Derby and Sprucefield in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, following its acquisition of the schemes from Westfield last week.
Formerly known as Capital Shopping Centres, Intu, which already owns 16 shopping centres including Lakeside, the Trafford Centre and Intu Watford, bought the centres for £865.5m to “fill in the gaps” in its UK property portfolio.
Chief operating officer Mike Butterworth told Drapers that Intu would look to improve the tenant mix in all three of its new centres.
Retailers at Westfield Derby include Ark, Bank, BHS, Lipsy and Sports Direct, while Merry Hill houses stores including Jack & Jones, Select, TK Maxx and Wallis. Anchor stores in Merry Hill – of which Intu has purchased half – including Marks & Spencer and Debenhams are expected to remain.
The Sprucefield retail park is home to Sainsbury’s, B&Q and Next Home. It is adjacent to a development site, which Intu is seeking planning permission to turn into a shopping centre. John Lewis wants to open a store at Sprucefield but has had a long fight with local planners.
Butterworth said he was looking for “good-quality businesses” – both fashion and food – across all the sites. Derby would require the least amount of work, he said, while at Merry Hill the team “will be looking at the retailers and upsizing some stores and downsizing others”.
Intu will continue to develop and refurbish its existing centres, including improving the leisure offers at Lakeside and the Intu Potteries centre in Stoke-on-Trent to bring them in line with Manchester’s Trafford Centre.
“It’s a good mix of retail and entertainment; it’s a day out, a destination centre,” said Butterworth. “We strive to achieve that with all of our centres.”
Westfield said the sale came as part of its strategic repositioning, which will see the global business concentrate on prime destinations in capital cities.
The group said it is planning to reinvest the sale proceeds, which after other parties’ takings totals £597m, into its “extensive UK and Europe pipeline” of developments worth £3.5bn, which includes the further expansion of West_ield London, Croydon, Bradford and the group’s first European development in Milan.
In November, Westfield announced that John Lewis will open at Westfield London, taking a 230,000 sq ft anchor unit in the centre’s 600,000 sq ft extension.
The £1bn scheme, next to the existing Shepherd’s Bush mall, will create 6,100 jobs.