Merry Hill owner intu says it will accelerate major revamp plans for the shopping centre.
The group hailed a ‘strong set of results’ for the first six months of the year, with rental income rising £12m to £219.4m.
Intu said that buying the remaining half of the £890m Merry Hill site in June from Australian investment group QIC would enable it ‘to accelerate re-engineering the retail, catering and leisure mix to unlock the full potential of this centre’.
The company said today: “The centre presents a significant opportunity to update the tenant mix. Encouraging large flagship formats and reducing the number of smaller units will make the centre more attractive to customers.”
Merry Hill is the fourth biggest of intu’s UK shopping centres, with 213 stores across 1.67 million sq ft. As well as increasing the size of its biggest stores the group plans improvements to restaurant and leisure facilities at the centre.
The acquisition pushed the value of intu’s assets to more than £10 billion. Across its shopping centres it saw the number of customers increase by 1.3 per cent over the six months with 96.1 per cent of its stores occupied. It faces the closure of BHS stores, but intu said it had interest from other retailers.
Chief executive David Fischel said: “We are pleased to report a strong set of results for the first six months of 2016 with a 10 per cent increase in underlying earnings per share driven by excellent growth in net rental income of 7.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
Our established retailers, such as Zara and Next, have been upsizing space and we continue to focus on strengthening and improving our prime shopping centres.”