Cabot Circus owner unveils major investment plans for shopping centre

The owners of Bristol’s Cabot Circus say they are working on investment plans to breath new life into the shopping centre.

The centre, which opened 2008, was hit by the loss of cinema operator Cinema De Lux at the start of the year.

But owners Hammerson say they are working on plans for the centre which include the development of a social and entertainment quarter.

Earlier this year Hammerson announced the arrival of four new stores and now the company has said it is looking to revamp a key part of the centre around the House of Fraser store and the vacant Cinema De Lux site.

The news came in the company’s annual results which painted an upbeat picture across the country.

Hammerson said:  “We are working up investment plans, alongside relevant operators, to reposition and maximise the value of major spaces including the House of Fraser department store at the gateway to the asset and to replace the cinema operator as part of the development of a social and entertainment quarter.”

The firm which owns premium shopping centres across the UK said its city centre destinations are still in high demand despite the squeeze on consumer spending.

Chief executive Rita-Rose Gagné said: “This year we delivered a positive performance across our key strategic, operational and financial metrics.

“Like-for-like gross rental income was up 6%, following another record year of leasing.  Occupancy remains strong and footfall and sales were up again.

“We’ve strengthened our operational platform, whilst reducing costs by 14%.  As a result, adjusted earnings rose 11% to £116m, whilst net debt was down 23%, with ample liquidity.”

She added: “Over the last three years, we have delivered against all strategic milestones.  We now have a core portfolio focused on urban locations which are evolving into my vision: vibrant, 24/7 multi-use estates.  These destinations are fast growing, and part of the fabric and infrastructure of the cities in which we operate.

“Whilst our eyes are open to the current macro-economic environment, our occupiers are thriving and our visitor numbers are on the rise in our realigned portfolio. We are reaping the rewards of the investments we are making in our core portfolio alongside best-in-class occupiers, which underpins the high levels of demand for our space.  We expect this trajectory to continue in the year ahead.  We have a strong pipeline of leasing and repurposing opportunities.  There is still more for us to do, but we are now entering a time where having the capability to invest and operate with discipline and conviction will be rewarded.”

Hammerson recently announced the sale of a shopping centre in Scotland completing £500m of its disposal programme.