Bearmont Capital buys troubled Menai Centre in Bangor
With a vacancy rate of 80%, the shopping complex’s new owner knows there is plenty of work to be done – and is eager to get started.
Bearmont Capital has acquired the Bangor Menai Centre from Columbia Threadneedle Investments for an undisclosed price. CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang acted for Columbia Threadneedle on the deal, while Gateley Legal represented Bearmont.
The 130,000 sq ft Menai Centre sits off Garth Road on the northern side of Bangor’s High Street. Cathco Property Group developed the £32m project in 2007.
Since then, however, the shopping centre has fallen on tough times – with Bearmont chief executive Rob Lloyd citing the departure of the anchor Debenhams department store cited as a main challenge.
This led to footfall dropping significantly, he said.
Now that Bearmont is the owner of the shopping centre, Lloyd said action has to be taken to help restore its vibrancy.
“We have to roll our sleeves up to make things happen,” he said.
Progress has already been made, with Lloyd reporting that a number of units are currently under offer and in legals. Menai Centre’s letting agent Mason and Partners will be pursuing other deals too.
Lloyd has ambitions to drive more footfall by transforming the retail complex into a more diverse venue. Fixing problems with high street retail, he contended, requires looking at other uses such as assisted living, leisure, and residential – as well as acquiring more boutique businesses as tenants.
“It’s all about trying to find a balance that works for the local community and also to attract others to the town so it has to be appealing,” Lloyd said.
“It’s all about being creative and exploring new ideas,” he added later.
The company’s chief focus is the Debenhams unit. Bearmont said it was working closely with Gwynedd Council on potential new uses for the space. Richard Baddley & Co is representing Bearmont in these discussions.
“The local authority and our development team share a common vision for revitalising the city,” Lloyd said.
“We aim to provide them with the necessary assurances that we are committed to effecting positive changes, and, as always, we will take an active role in enhancing the commercial hub by attracting viable tenants, ensuring reasonable rental rates, and offering more flexible lease agreements.”
Across the North West and North Wales, communities are exploring new uses for old Debenhams stores. In Manchester, AM Alpha is transforming the store into a mixed use development with offices, shops, and leisure schemes. Stockport’s Debenhams is set to become a film studio. Over in Barrow, BAE Systems is redeveloping the department store into a training centre for submarine engineers. And in Liverpool, the Debenhams is in the middle of being converted into a leisure playground with e-karting, bowling, and urban golf.