Property giant Hammerson this month acquired Grand Central shopping centre for £350 million and has reaffirmed its “strong commitment” to Birmingham.
In its audited results for last year, the report says: “The centre, which opened in September 2015, is anchored by a 23,200 square metre John Lewis and provides a modern retail environment for 40 premium stores including Jo Malone, Joules, Cath Kidson and The White Company.
“It also contains 20 casual dining brands including Yo Sushi, Caffe Concerto and Tapas Revolution.
“The acquisition supports our long-term commitment to Birmingham, which is benefitting from significant inward investment. We have contracted to sell, subject to regulatory approval, 50 per cent of the scheme to CPPIB, one of the existing joint venture partners in Bullring, for £175 million.”
Grand Central was developed by Network Rail and Birmingham City Council as part of the £750 million New Street Station regeneration project.
Hammerson also developed Bullring, which opened in 2003, and it has become one of the UK’s most successful retail destinations and the prime shopping location in Birmingham. Bullring dominates the Midlands region with 36 million annual footfall.
The report adds: “Located within one of the largest retail catchments in the UK, Birmingham city centre attracts an annual retail spend of over £1 billion, making it the number one choice for many national and international brands looking to launch in the UK.”
Bullring is the second largest shopping centre in Hammerson’s portfolio.
Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) said: “Hammerson is a hugely significant partner in the creation of Birmingham as a major shopping destination and its commitment to the city is most welcome.
“Their contribution cannot be over-estimated. Hammerson are correct when they say they have created destinations that excite shoppers, attract and support retailers, reward investors and serve communities.
“Their portfolio is valued at £8.4 billion and includes investments in 21 prime shopping centres in the UK and France, 21 retail parks in the UK and 15 premium outlets across Europe.”
David Atkins, chief executive of Hammerson, said: “2015 was a strong year for the business, with our assets well placed to take advantage of improving consumer confidence and growing retailer demand for space in prime regional destinations, resulting in meaningful ERV growth.
“A clear focus on our strategic priorities has delivered strong earnings growth of 13 per cent and supports a five-year track-record of 8 per cent compound growth per annum.
“We continue to recycle capital into assets best positioned to deliver value creation, with the acquisition in Ireland, Grand Central and Festival Park aligned with our strategy to own and manage prime retail destinations across Europe.
“Looking ahead, whilst we recognise the global economic and political uncertainties, we remain confident that the business will continue to deliver sustainable, attractive returns.”
Recognising Birmingham’s growing reputation in Birmingham as a major shopping destination, the Chamber has introduced an “Excellence in Retail Award” to be presented at its annual dinner on at the ICC on April 28.