Winchester Shopping Centre placed on Market after collapse of Property Company

Posted on 8 January, 2015 by Kirsten Kennedy

While the number of firms entering administration has lessened significantly since the peak years during the recession, they are still very much a reality in modern day Britain. This has recently been seen in the administration of the De Stefano Property Group, to which administrators from KPMG have been appointed to sell off a number of the group’s assets including the Brooks Shopping Centre in Winchester.

A yellow folder with the label Real Estate

According to administrators, around half of the centre’s 24 units are unoccupied, with a number currently being used as “pop up” shops for the benefit of local independent retailers. However, the centre has significant scope to generate additional income with administrators claiming that new management could install restaurant units and a live events space suitable for festivals and large scale gatherings.

Executive director Chris Turner of the Winchester Business Improvement District (BID) believes new owners could take inspiration from London’s Covent Garden by opening the centre for longer hours and creating a community centred focus.

He explains; “It’s not the most exciting of buildings, but it could have interesting things done to it – it could have fashion shows, events, festivals and all the rest in there, we can turn it into an amazing place.

“We’ve never managed to quite get that going because it shuts at half past five.

“We’d like to have an owner who is more enthusiastic about ideas of events: in the last few months we’ve not sensed that enthusiasm and we have not known why – this [administration] may be the reason.”

Administrators have confirmed that The Brooks Centre will appear on the open market by March at the latest, although they are yet to specify whether it will be sold as part of a package deal encompassing other properties within the De Stefano Property Group portfolio.

Local residents and organisations are concerned that, should this course of action be taken, the sale of the centre could take longer to go through and would leave the future of the town centre staple up in the air for a prolonged period of time.

While administrators remain cagey about the future actions they will take regarding the sale of the Brooks Centre, they expect the shopping destination’s 15 permanent stores to remain open. This will mean that occupiers including Beales, HMV and Primark will continue to trade for the foreseeable future and will presumably have the ability to negotiate the continuation of their leases with the eventual new owner.

The Brooks Centre could certainly prove to be a worthwhile investment, yet any potential buyers will need to consider the impact of the upcoming £165 million Silver Hill scheme which will bring an influx of new retail brands to Winchester.

Vice chairman of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce’s Winchester branch, David Barr, says; “The viability of the Brooks must have been in question for some time.

“Given the Silver Hill development I don’t know what the future of the Brooks holds.”

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