A number of influential analysts have defied the market gloom to predict that retail will turn out to be the top-performing property sector this year.

As part of its continuing growth into the retail sector, King Sturge has bought the Glasgow-based niche retail property specialist Hamilton Glen, which is led by Fiona Hamilton.

Hammerson has confirmed that Highcross, the £350m shopping and leisure destination being developed in partnership with Hermes in Leicester will open to the public on 4 September 2008.

Modus has announced that the new Houndshill shopping centre in Blackpool will open its doors on 21 August 2008. And the formal launch will take place on September 6.

Shopping Centre has teamed up with retail destination marketing company Fox Kalomaski to update its survey of professionals' attitudes within the shopping centre industry, last carried out in 2006.

Land Securities has submitted a planning application for 'Evolution Corby', the second phase of its development in Corby town centre. Willow Place, the £35m first phase, opened in October last year.

The picture on page 2 of the March edition of Shopping Centre showed Modus's Trinity Walk shopping centre in Wakefield, and not Multi's SouthGate in Bath as captioned.

Shopping Centre's SCEPTRE Awards are nearly upon us again, and the big event takes place at the Dorchester Hotel on London's Park Lane on 18th June 2008.

The Government's new legislation on Empty Property Rates will drive down commercial property values, will fail to incentivise development and reduce the availability of property in the marketplace, according to a new survey by commercial property consultant Lambert Smith Hampton.

I would like to use your letters column to pass on my gratitude to those people who contributed to the production of the Tenant Active System (TAS) launch video.

Three malls have opened in the past month in Ashford, High Wycombe and Cambridge with a combined floorspace of 1.6 million sq ft. With Belfast opening last month and Liverpool next month we're now in the middle of the busiest spate of centre openings the country has seen.

Founded 60 years ago by Rudolph Dassler, the brother of Adidas creator Adolph Dassler, Puma has a market capitalisation of over o4bn. It sponsors the football teams of Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland. And it sponsored most of the teams in this year's African Cup of Nations.

Well, the merry-go-round has well and truly ground to a halt, and at the risk of mixing my metaphors, if you're left holding the parcel it's always possible that in reality you can't implement the asset plan that was relying on yields coming in further.

After a flurry of successful shopping centre openings this spring, the engines are now revving up for the completion of numerous schemes in the UK before the end of the year.

As only the second out-of-town retail mall ever to be built in the country, after Brent Cross, Hempstead Valley shopping centre in Gillingham, Kent, is celebrating its 30th birthday this year.

They're known as the Coventry Falcons. They're not a football team; they're not rugby players. Their game is stealing people's identities from offices. They look very presentable, wear jackets and ties, perhaps. But they will sneak into your business, dip into unattended handbags and jackets, and take purses and wallets. Leaving your premises, they clone the credit cards using equipment in their vehicle.

A marked improvement in the quality and provision of security services has been reported by shopping centre managers following the regulation of the private security industry in the UK.

According to the police, some 80 per cent of CCTV footage is of such poor quality that it cannot be used as admissible evidence in the event of a prosecution. Clearly, it would be extremely costly to install high resolution cameras throughout a shopping centre, but at the same time, only having access to poor quality images instantly negates a vital function of CCTV: the positive identification of suspects.

Last month Bluewater launched new, highly sustainable, restrooms with a contemporary design - the first in a series of enhancements intended to reduce the centre's environmental footprint and maintain its position as the UK's premier retail and leisure destination.

== ? Accrington ==

As part of its programme of investment and expansion at Motherwell's Brandon shopping centre, CALA PROPERTIES has appointed a full-time centre manager. CLAIRE JEFCOATE has moved from Rutherglen shopping centre in Glasgow to become the centre's first permanent, full-time manager for a number of years.

A Scottish national newspaper adopted Braehead shopping centre's annual spoof as it's April Fool story this year.

Ray Hoof, manager of the Telford shopping centre since it opened in 1973, and a key member of the BCSC West Midlands region, recently retired.

Spare a thought for Sue Haslam, director in the facilities and property management department at Legat Owen, as she sets out on the voyage of a lifetime from Santa Cruz in California.

The hit Channel 4 show, How To Look Good Naked, has moved to Bluewater from The Trafford Centre, where the first series was filmed. The North Kent mall has been chosen as the new location for the final catwalk element of the show.

Meadowhall has become the first UK shopping centre to offer its customers free electric car charging points.

Terminal 5 has only been open for two weeks and has received more publicity than either British Airways or BAA could have possibly imagined, sadly, none of it positive.

As customer counting technology becomes increasingly more advanced and informative, shopping centre managers are realising the benefits in understanding the footfall data of their own retailers and of the town or city in which they are located.

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