Intu has glossed over a fall in both shops and shoppers at its 16 retail sites last year by announcing an £11m extension to its prestige Gateshead complex. It will spend another £20m upgrading its Potteries site.
Britain’s biggest shopping centre owner, intu is blaming a series of tenant failures last year for a one per cent fall in its occupancy rates — down from 96 to 95 per cent — and a near two per cent slide in rental income. The number of people visiting its malls also declined by two per cent.
Coming after a £6.8bn rebranding exercise, chief executive David Fischel shrugged off the figures. “These results are history,” he said, “we’re looking forward. We have a £1.2bn development pipeline and the benefits of rebranding are coming through.
“With the economy appearing to improve and total profit for the year including revaluations increased from £159m to £364m, we are prepared to withstand some minor reduction in like-for-like net rental income in the short term as we continue to invest in our centres to drive their total returns through our robust asset management approach, tenant mix repositioning and development projects,” added Fischel.
One of those projects is a 45,000sq ft extension to Gateshead’s Metrocentre. It has been given permission to extend the Qube, an area which attracts thousands of visitors to its Odeon Imax cinema and a range of restaurants, by adding 11 more catering outlets and several new retail units.
If pre-letting goes as planned work on the new Qube II should start this year with a summer 2015 completion. As part of the same £11m upgrade the company said it was undertaking a repositioning of the Metrocentre’s Platinum Mall “to create a more aspirational ambience”.
Gavin Prior is general manager at the Metrocentre, claimed to Europe’s biggest shopping complex. “The continued investment by intu ensures that we will continue to deliver an outstanding shopping and dining experience to our customers at Gateshead,” he said. “Our research indicates that there is a demand for more aspirational brands and dining within the centre. The new Platinum Mall will be complete this summer, along with the Qube extension shortly after, enables us to deliver what our customers want as part of their shopping experience here at the centre.”
Intu Properties, which also owns intu Eldon Square across the Tyne in Newcastle, as well as 14 other shopping centres around Britain claims an annual nationwide footfall of more than 350m. Last week it announced a £20m extension to its Stoke-on-Trent complex where it has signed three national restaurant chains to anchor a 60,000sq ft leisure court upgrade.
“Intu Potteries is the main retail and leisure destination for the six towns of Stoke-on-Trent and attracts an annual footfall of 12m from a catchment area that includes over a million people,” said Martin Breeden, intu’s asset management director. “It is currently under-served in terms of catering and we are confident that the leisure extension will be a great success.”