Tesco clinches Kirkby buyout of DevSec land

Development Securities has withdrawn from the battle to regenerate Kirkby after selling its holdings in the town to rival Tesco.

In a one-line statement to the Stock Exchange today DevSec said an undisclosed buyer had acquired the retail asset for "a value which equates to book value and the original cost incurred by Development Securities."

However, Michael Marx, DevSec chief executive and finance director, later confirmed the shopping centre had been sold to Tesco for the original price paid for the asset, £65m, in April last year.

Tesco plans a £400m scheme, called Destination Kirkby, centred on a new stadium for Everton FC. A planning application for Destination Kirkby, which also includes 50 new shops in addition to a Tesco Extra and the relocated stadium, was submitted to the council in January this year.

The controversial planned move from Everton's Goodison Park home in Liverpool to the Knowsley site has angered many of the club's fans. Several residents in Kirkby who also oppose the Tesco scheme are standing in the local elections next month on a campaigning ticket.

Tesco and Everton say the project would create 2,300 new jobs, enhance the future of the football club and improve access to Kirkby through public transport investment.

Michael Kissman, Tesco corporate affairs manager, said: "This deal ensures that the whole of Kirkby town centre can be included in the exciting regeneration plans of the 'Destination Kirkby' project. Our plans have always been about adding to the town centre, rather than replacing it, and this deals proves that point.

"A key priority will now be to meet the range of tenants on this site. We want to work with local traders to ensure this site benefits from the wider investment for new shops and an Everton stadium currently being considered by Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council."

Today's sale is a u-turn for DevSec which had initially planned to submit rival proposals anchored by Asda.

Marx said: "The advantage of the sale is that it reduces our net debt which stood at £70m at 1 January effectively down to zero which is where we want to be at this stage in the cycle."

Shares in DevSec were down 2.5p at 452p.

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