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Primark opening boosts Shrewsbury shopper numbers

By Thom Kennedy | Shrewsbury | Business | Published: | Last Updated:

The owner of Shrewsbury's shopping centres says it has seen visitor numbers spike in the wake of the opening of the town's new Primark store.

Shoppers queue outside Shrewsbury's new Primark store

The new £12 million store opened in Shrewsbury's Darwin Centre in July, with hundreds of shoppers queuing to get a glimpse of the latest addition to the town's fashion scene.

It came after an investment by the centre's owners, the UK Commercial Property Trust, and now that company has indicated that the move has proved successful in bringing more shoppers into the centre.

In its half-year results for the six months to June 30, UKCPT said visitor numbers to the town centre malls had spiked after the investment.

"It is pleasing to report the successful opening of the new Primark store in the Charles Darwin Centre, Shrewsbury, following the period end in July," the company said.

"Early reports show a significant increase in footfall throughout both Charles Darwin and Pride Hill centres which, it is hoped, will lead to improved net operating income."

The 30,600sq ft shop has taken the place of nine units in the centre including Currys, TK Maxx and Dorothy Perkins. More than 140 jobs were created within the store.

UKCPT's total asset value – a typical measure of a commercial property company's overall trading performance – was 2.5 per cent higher at £1.4 billion for the period.

Chairman Andrew Wilson said: "I am pleased to report that the positive performance that your company delivered in 2016 has continued into the first six months of 2017.

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"Against a background of heightened political uncertainty, UKCPT’s portfolio has again produced above benchmark returns as a number of portfolio initiatives, combined with judicious sales and acquisition activity, have secured long-term income and driven value.

"This performance has contributed to a strong return for shareholders in the period, with the Company’s shares trading at a premium to net asset value at the period end."

The latest announcement provided no update on the company's plans for the Riverside Shopping Centre in Shrewsbury, however.

The Darwin and Pride Hill centres are owned by UKCPT while Shropshire Council owns the freehold of the Riverside Centre, with UKCPT holding a long lease on the centre.

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The shopping centres were the focus of a plan for a multi-million pound redevelopment which was placed on hold in 2013.

The original plan was for a redeveloped Riverside centre to be linked with the town’s other two shopping centres, with a large department store as an “anchor tenant”.

When asked about its plans for the site earlier this summer, UKCPT said there was no update to the current situation.

Low-cost fashion chain Primark continues to defy worries over the wider retail environment, and upped its full-year profit outlook when its owner Associated British Foods updated the market last week.

AB Foods expects full-year sales at the Primark stores chain to rise 13 per cent on a constant currency basis, with the UK seeing a particularly strong turnover growth of 10 per cent.

Like-for-like sales are forecast to come in one per cent higher at the low-cost fashion chain – which has another store in Telford Shopping Centre.

Thom Kennedy

By Thom Kennedy
Business Editor - @tkennedy_star

Shropshire Star Business Editor

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