National property group Land Securities said bringing the right retailers to St Johns shopping centre in Liverpool is a priority as its popularity continues to grow on the high street.
Land Securities posted a strong set of results within its first quarter interim management statement on Tuesday, stating sound progress on lettings across its development projects and its investment portfolio has continued.
James Larmuth, Land Securities' portfolio manager, said the £100m redevelopment of St Johns shopping centre continues to remain on hold as the property company focuses on what is already available at the retail destination.
Larmuth said: "We're still interested in the reconfiguration of the food court at St Johns shopping centre and are talking to a number of existing tenants about our plans of making a significant investment into this.
"We're aiming to get to a position where we have agreement with the retailers over the food court proposals by the end of the year, meaning we can start sometime next year on making the changes.
"St Johns shopping centre has attracted 5.3million customers already this year proving that our retail offer is still a major draw on the Liverpool high street.
"However, we're operating in a difficult economic environment so we have to remain resilient and now, more than ever, is the time to get the basics right which is exactly what we've done.
"The high street may be busy but every pound in the consumer purse has to work much harder. So we're listening to our customers and working hand-in-hand with retailers more now than ever to ensure we deliver the right deals to bring value brands, such as Aldi and Home Bargains, into the scheme.
"Employing a robust asset management strategy and attracting the right retailers into the scheme is going to be our recipe for success in 2011."
In Chester, John Lewis at Home is still scheduled to open a 60,000 sq ft store at Land Securities' Greyhound Retail Park on Sealand Road in the autumn.
Within its statement on the London Stock Exchange, LandSec said it continues to bring forward a number of new development opportunities in both its London and retail portfolios.
LandSec said it achieved £9.5m of lettings in total with a further £5.4m in solicitors' hands in the first quarter of 2011.
Other highlights included:
- Total property sales in the quarter totalled £177.1m at 7.9% above March 2011 valuation, at an average yield of 4.1%
- Capital expenditure on developments in the quarter of £42.2m
- Total property acquisitions in the quarter of £18.5m at an average yield of 2.1%. The acquisitions consisted predominantly of vacant site-assembly assets within Victoria in London
Francis Salway, Land Securities' chief executive, said: "The outlook for development in London remains attractive and, despite the mixed messages in the retail sector, our leasing activity demonstrates that the stronger retailers are looking to take new space.
"This retail demand has meant we have over the last few months also begun to step up our activity in retail development predominantly in edge of town locations and we now have a £275m, 1m sq ft, pipeline of opportunities to meet the growing demand from food and fashion retailers for space. Once again, we will look to marry our development expertise with retailer commitment to a scheme before we take these opportunities forward.
"We entered the financial year with a clear plan, and the letting and sales activity we have undertaken in the first quarter underpins our confidence in this plan."