Supermarket hope for centre owners

By Ian Dipple 11/05 Updated: 15/05 07:26

ATTRACTING a supermarket back into the town centre is one of the targets identified by the new owners of the Kingfisher Shopping Centre.

Capital & Regional bought the centre in a £130million deal last week and have already identified a number of big name brands they want to bring to the town. The company’s immediate plan will be attracting eateries and restaurants to the vacant TJ Hughes unit by the Apollo Cinema, but also high on their agenda is finally returning a dedicated supermarket or food store to the shopping centre, absent since Tesco’s decision to move out in the 1990s.

Speaking to the Standard Mark Bourgeois, managing director shopping centres for Capital & Regional, said it would take time to achieve but it was definitely on their radar.

“While food operators are increasingly looking at local formats and want to be in town centres you have to create the right space for them as they tend not to compromise on layout. They want convenient parking close to the store, they want a certain type of floor space so although we’ve got a million square feet to play with it’s not a day one fix to introduce them, we may need to move people around, and it could be a bit of a chess game to move towards the final piece of the picture.”

He added their plans for the food court development were in the early stages but they had a clear idea of who they wanted.

“We have a clear business plan and have aspirations to make quite a difference within a two to three year period. It won’t happen overnight, you won’t suddenly see in six months time all singing and dancing new schemes, but you will start to see that incrementally as we move through.”

The company is also keen to do more to support and encourage independent traders and plans to launch its annual talent finding competition - The Retail Factor - in January which will offer someone wanting the opportunity to start their own business the chance to trade within the centre as well as mentoring support.

Executive director Ken Ford added they were committed to the town and wanted to play a productive part in helping regenerate the town centre as a whole working alongside the Town Centre Partnership and borough council.

“From my point of view, and my fellow investors, it is about making a return and how you do that is by making a difference for the community you have invested in and the opportunity to do so in Redditch is a big one and an exciting one.”

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