357,000 sq ft centre, which dates back to the 1960s, has been bought from London-based retail investor Ellandi and Avenue Capital and will form part of wider regeneration plans. Tony McDonough reports
Sefton Council has acquired Bootle Strand Shopping Centre in a £32.5m deal.
The centre, which dates back to the 1960s, has been bought from London-based retail investor Ellandi and Avenue Capital.
Ellandi bought The Strand in 2014 and spent £3.4m on modernising the facility with the aim of improving on its 24% vacancy rate.
However, the centre has continued to have problems retaining major tenants. National retailer Marks & Spencer closed its outlet there last year.
Current retail tenants include New Look, Iceland, B&M, Wilko and JD Sports.
Sefton Council has secured a loan to purchase The Strand, which comprises 357,000 sq ft of space, and insists it will prove to be a profitable investment for the borough.
In statement the council said: “The purchase has been fully funded through a loan and comes at no expense to the taxpayers and residents of Sefton.
“The income generated by the centre will more than cover the loan repayment costs and the centre’s running costs.
“This means there will be enough money left over to contribute to much-needed local services and new regeneration projects.”
The authority sees the purchase of The Strand as key to its ambitious wider regeneration plans.
It aims to attract £100m worth of private sector investment around the Leeds-Liverpool canal that would include new offices restaurants and hotels.
The council added: “Not only will the purchase contribute significantly to the delivery of the council’s ambitious regeneration plans for Bootle Town Centre, it also provides much needed new revenue streams for us to support local services.
“With services under pressure due to cuts to council budgets at a national level, Sefton Council has been looking for new ways to generate income to limit the impact of cuts.
“We will be spending the next few months putting together plans for the future development of the centre, and how it can better serve the people of Bootle and visitors from the surrounding areas.”
Property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampson, which acted for the council on the deal, said it will allow Sefton to lead the regeneration of Bootle town centre.
Ben Roberts, the firm’s director of capital markets, added: “This acquisition also reflects the emerging trend of local authorities investing in real estate to generate income as well as assisting their regeneration strategies, and has been borne out in other towns such as Chorley, Stockport and Rochdale.”