Shopping centre announces £50m investment

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A raft of improvements worth more than £50m over the next five years have been announced for Merry Hill shopping centre.

The programme will begin with a first-stage relaunch in September and the plans include a design overhaul at the shopping centre – as well as the introduction of a range of new features and attractions.

A new family entertainment ‘Leisure District’ is also being considered to allow visitors of all ages to enjoy social activities in between shopping, in addition to an improved range of cafés, pubs, restaurants and other eateries throughout the shopping centre.

Signage and wayfinding at the centre will also be improved throughout the two million sq ft site.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and numerous lockdowns, Merry Hill has continued to trade well, demonstrated by 22 new or renewed agreements with shops and restaurants, including Superdry, HMV, Foot Asylum, Hamleys and Bon Pan.

Improvements made in recent years along The Waterfront will continue under the plans, with the canalside destination today being home to a variety of eateries, shops, and educational and community organisations.

The plans will be spearheaded by Ellandi – the privately-owned shopping centre operator – which was appointed asset manager of Merry Hill in September 2020.

The announcement comes as the last main intu sign was removed, with £14m works to install new decorative panelling outside the centre nearing completion – marking a new beginning for Merry Hill.

Mark Robinson, co-founder of Ellandi, said: “Our plans mean that by July 2025, Merry Hill will be the West Midlands’ most vibrant family lifestyle destination, embedded right in the heart of the local community.

“When complete, shoppers will be able to visit a range of new, big-name brands, in addition to familiar favourites and independent retailers. We are also thrilled to confirm Merry Hill will welcome a range of all-new family leisure attractions, providing visitors with plenty of fun and excitement in between shopping and dining.

“The expected arrival of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension in late 2023, which will see the creation of a new station close to The Waterfront, will also make getting to and from the centre easier and more environmentally-friendly than ever before.

“We are working with key stakeholders such as Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council to ensure that the arrival of the Metro and the exciting Future High Street Fund plans for Brierley Hill are built on to create a inclusive environment for the local community as well as a best in class regional destination.

“We are extremely confident that our ambitious plans will transform the centre into the premier retail and leisure designation of choice for the West Midlands – creating a cherished destination that the whole community can take pride in.

“Despite the past 15 months, exciting occupiers seem to share our vision with over twenty units currently in negotiations with new retailers to Merry Hill.”

Home to more than 250 brands including Marks and Spencer, Primark, Asda, Flannels and H&M, more than 16 million visits were made to Merry Hill in 2020.

A new centre manager has also been appointed for Merry Hill. Jonathan Poole, formerly centre manager at The Liberty centre in Romford, took up the position this spring, bringing with him more than 20 years of experience.