Brent Cross expansion hit by new Hammerson strategy

Hammerson unveiled its big new strategy this week and it looks like one casualty of the change of direction (as well as the weak market for bricks and mortar stores) is its plan for a massive expansion at Brent Cross. 


Brent Cross/Hammerson


The start date of those plans had already been put on hold for six months back in June and now they’ve been hit by a further delay but one with no time limit on it.

Hammerson co-owns Brent Cross along with Aberdeen Standard Investments and on Tuesday it released details of a strategy that would see it focusing on premium locations and moving upmarket across its portfolio.

Brent Cross, the 42-year-old mall, had been its key development project and was in line for a £1.4 billion spend as part of the overall Northwest London area’s regeneration. As well as upgrading the property overall, this would also have seen it doubling in size. Those plans had been in the pipeline for more than 10 years but have now been delayed indefinitely, leading to speculation that Hammerson might even decide to scale them back when work does eventually start.

The plans as they currently stand include increasing the size of the existing shopping centre to 2 million sq ft of retail/leisure space. They take in up to 150 new shops, with John Lewis as the anchor tenant. John Lewis hasn't commented on the about-face yet but we have already heard from the retailer in recent weeks that its own big new strategy plan involves fewer openings and focusing more on existing properties. It already has a store at Brent Cross and we have to assume that the mall’s expansion plan would have seen this being upgraded significantly.

But driving Brent Cross into the 21st-century still seems to be key for Hammerson with CEO David Atkins stressing the firm’s ongoing commitment to the property, while also saying that the heavy development costs can’t be justified in the current retail environment.

The company said a start date for development at the London mall was being delayed due to “increased risks in the current market environment. The scheme remains an important strategic project and we continue to recognise its role as one of London’s leading retail destinations and will support its future success.”

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