InfraRed plans facelifts for Liverpool shopping centres (Property Week)

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In his own words, his belief is reflected in the fund manager’s acquisitions of two shopping centres in the city — St Johns Shopping Centre and Clayton Square — within 13 months of each other.

St Johns, a 340,000 sqft scheme, was bought in March last year for £76.5m and the 170,000 sqft Clayton Square for £14m in April.

Both were bought from Land Securities and fit InfraRed’s strategy of acquiring secondary and smaller shopping centres in areas with strong retail markets, but each offers a different proposition. St Johns is home to value retailers such as Poundland, Argos, Brighthouse and New Look and enjoys occupational rates of between 95% and 98%, but it has been left largely untouched for 20 years.

Clayton Square, on the other hand, has mid-range retailers such as Costa, EE and Vision Express, but has lower occupancy rates of 80% on the first floor and 93% on the ground floor.

Huxtable says:

"We see St Johns and Clayton Square as very different schemes. St Johns is fit for purpose and has a loyal catchment and shopper, but needs bringing up to date. Clayton we regard as a failing scheme."

With occupational rates already high at St Johns, Huxtable plans to bring the centre up to date with refurbishments on a staggered basis. InfraRed has just started on the £2m expansion and renovation of the centre’s food court.

There are also plans for a £1m rejuvenation of the Houghton Street entrance later this year and further plans to update other entrances at the site.

KFC, Subway and McDonald’s have renewed their leases at the centre, and within the last couple of weeks Chinese restaurant Chopsticks signed a 10 year lease at the food court.

InfraRed will spend £3m this year, and there are plans to spend a similar amount next year. Overall it has budgeted to spend between £11.5m and £15.3m on renovations.

For Clayton Square, InfraRed plans a significant redevelopment to increase its value. Huxtable would not be drawn on specifics, but he says InfraRed plans to spend between £7m and £14m to redevelop the centre to meet requirements of future occupiers.

Construction work on redeveloping the centre is earmarked to take place next year.

Huxtable adds:

"We’re very positive about the Liverpool retailing market. It’s a vibrant city, and it has a local authority determined to take it forward and build on the successes the city has had."