Global investor AREA Property Partners has effectively called the bottom of the out-of-town investment market by taking a significant stake in the troubled Junction portfolio of retail parks.

Deloitte, the Joint Administrator of Epcoscan, trading as Bay Trading, has found a buyer for the business.

Hammerson’s Union Square development in Aberdeen city centre is now over 50 per cent let by income six months ahead of opening.

Demolition work is now coming to an end at Parkway, Standard Life Investments’ new 475,000-sq ft town centre redevelopment in Newbury, as contractors Costain press ahead to prepare the site for start of construction.

JJB has completed a CVA with some of the its biggest landlords and has closed about 140 stores while changing lease terms for around 250 remaining ones, where rent will now be paid monthly.

Savills has called for greater flexibility in the landlord/tenant relationship. In its latest retail bulletin it said the traditional UK methods of zoning or charging overall rates per sq ft can lead to some prime stores being undervalued and mediocre to poor properties overvalued.

Kirkstone Property Ventures has finalised plans for the comprehensive refurbishment of the Old Market Shopping Centre in Taunton. The £3m revamp of the 40-unit scheme will be completed in time for Christmas this year.

The All Party Urban Development Group is receiving submissions now for its inquiry entitled Regeneration and the Recession: Unlocking the Money and it expects to publish its conclusions in July this year.

Earlier this month I spent a very instructive day holed up in a West London restaurant chairing the SCEPTRE Awards judging day. As ever it was a fascinating experience to see the industry experts who make up our panel analysing the entries.

The economic climate has rocked the high street; it’s hard to think of a retailer that hasn’t been affected. In the past 12 months, we have witnessed the demise of household names including Woolworths, which collapsed after 99 years on the high street. The furniture chain MFI finally departed after years of attempted resuscitation, while Rosebys, Floor-2-Go, MK One and The Pier all entered administration.

Considering the current credit crunching state of affairs in Ireland, Dundrum Town Centre is faring surprisingly well. As centre manager Don Nugent puts it: “Centres like Dundrum are beacons of light in turbulent times.” That said, even centres that are prospering must look for ways to bolster customer spend and Dublin-based Dumdrum is no exception.

The proliferation of empty units is an unhappy by-product of the worst trading conditions for several decades. Shopping centre managers, landlords and letting agents are striving to get them filled but in the absence of a suitable tenant willing to sign a 10-year lease, there are other options. Short-term lettings to retail merchandising unit (RMU) operators, local university students and promotional brands are all options being explored by canny shopping centre operators.

Kurt Geiger, Europe’s leading luxury shoe retailer, has selected Multi Development and CommerzReal’s Victoria Square in Belfast for its first standalone store in Ireland. It will open in mid-June 2009.

Junction One, Northern Ireland’s top-ranked out-of-town shopping and leisure destination, saw Easter weekend sales up eight per cent against the same period last year. Footfall was also significantly up, with 15 per cent more visitors than at Easter 2008.

Chartered Land has signed Mego and Marc O’Polo to open at Swords Pavilions. Mego, which plans to open up to eight stores across Ireland in the near future, includes Mexx, French Connection, Inwear, Lipsy and Jackpot among its fashion brands. The store will trade from a 3,972-sq ft unit located in phase two of the centre.

The Quays shopping centre in Newry is celebrating after becoming the first shopping centre in Northern Ireland to be awarded the Investors in People (IiP) accreditation.

New research from CB Richard Ellis underlines the continued stress in the retail sector with an increasing number of retailers going into administration and defaulting on their tenancies in reaction to weakening economic conditions and deteriorating employment prospects.

Humility is not a word one would naturally associate with modern professional rugby. Admittedly, rugby has historically been viewed as something of a gentleman’s sport compared with its nearest sibling, soccer, but modern players bathe in the limelight their aptitude with a rugby ball affords. Yet, humility and modesty are two defining characteristics of Lions legend and commercial property consultant, Fergus Slattery.

The Irish property market has in recent years witnessed a boom of gargantuan proportions. But as with everything that goes up, it must come down, and in this case it has not so much come down but crash landed.

UK shopper numbers fell by 3.7 per cent year-on-year in April 2009 according to Experian’s FootFall Index, with the largest falls in Scotland, Wales and London.

The group of industry experts expect the rate of retail business failures to slow because, even though profit margins are under pressure and customer demand is still declining, costs are now largely under control.

St David’s 2 will welcome the fresh and quirky accessories store Ollie & Nic’s first shop in Wales, when Cardiff city centre’s new shopping centre opens in October 2009.

Ambleside

Multi Development and CommerzReal’s Victoria Square in Belfast was the only UK scheme to win at this year’s ICSC Awards in Barcelona.

Chapman Taylor architects has been awarded a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category, the same year the practice celebrates its 50th anniversary.

John Lewis is to launch a new store format, focusing on homewares including electricals and home technology. The new format will be a third of the size of a typical John Lewis department store and will sell the retailer’s electrical and home technology ranges along with additional features including an espresso bar, customer collection and a gift list service.

This month, Coverpoint's Jonathan Doughty visits the new St Pancras Grand brasserie at London’s St Pancras International station.

A splash of colour and an injection of fun might be just the solution to escape the current grim times and a growing number of people are finding this antidote in a visit to Latin American restaurant concept Las Iguanas.

New West End Company, the retail body set up to promote and manage London’s West End, reports that April footfall for the West End was up 3.1 per cent year-on-year. The West End outperformed the rest of the UK where foot flow was down 0.7 per cent year-on-year, according to the data trackers Springboard.

UK retail sales values rose 4.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the year to April 2009, and rose 6.3 per cent on a total basis, according to the Retail Sales Monitor from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG.

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