Intu at risk as lockdown hits the retail industry hard

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Intu Properties, owner of the UK’s largest shopping centres, including Lakeside and the Trafford Centre, has said it is ‘likely’ to call in administrators KPMG. The company owns 17 shopping centres in the UK and three more in Spain.

The heavily-indebted company, which has seen revenues plummet during lockdown, has so far failed to reach an agreement with lenders and has until Midnight today (Friday June 26) to reach a deal. In an interview with Sky News a source said it was ‘90 per cent certain’ that Intu would fall into administration, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Intu has been burdened with £4.5billion of debt for the past year and is also now facing significantly reduced rent payments since the coronavirus lockdown. Intu employs 3,000 staff in the UK whilst a further 102,000 are working in shops within its centres. Intu shopping centres in the UK include:

Intu Braehead (Glasgow); Intu Broadmarsh (Nottingham); Intu Chapelfield (Norwich); Intu Derby; Intu Eldon Square (Newcastle); Intu Lakeside (Essex); The Mall at Cribbs Causeway (Bristol); Manchester Arndale Centre; Intu Merry Hill (Brierley, near Dudley); Intu MetroCentre (Gateshead); Intu Milton Keynes; Intu Potteries (Stoke-on-Trent); St David’s (Cardiff); Intu Trafford Centre (Manchester); Intu Uxbridge; Intu Victoria Centre (Nottingham); Intu Watford.

It’s largest shopping mall is the MetroCentre, which hosts 202 stores, while Lakeside has 166 and the Trafford Centre 145. Trafford Centre saw 31 million shoppers pass through its doors in 2018 and Eldon Square saw 35 million. Nine Intu malls featured in GlobalData’s list of the top 20 UK shopping centres (2019).

Despite such worrying signs of impending carnage in the retail industry, the easing of lockdown has brought a little respite as high street footfall surged by 51 per cent between Monday June 15 and Sunday June 21. Footfall increased by more than 300% at Intu shopping centres following the reopening of non-essential retailers. Despite this major increase on the previous week, overall shopper numbers in Britain remain at historic lows according to data analyst, Springboard.

Gavin Prior, operations director at Trafford Centre owner Intu, said: ‘Footfall increased towards the weekend and Saturday and Sunday were our busiest days so far. Visitor numbers were up by 321% on last weekend across all Intu centres, with more than half of the stores in our centres now open.’

In 2016 Intu sold its Bromley centre, The Glades, for a sum thought to be around £200million and earlier this year sold the Asturias mall in Spain for around £245million.