The centre has 120 stores, including Marks & Spencer, Allders, Boots and Bhs. However, the sale does not include the Allders anchor store, which is owned on a long lease by property company Minerva and sub-let to the department store group. A number of rival operators, including John Lewis Partnership, have expressed an interest in taking over the Allders lease if a buyer is not found for the business as a going concern today.
However, the Whitgift Shopping Centre Partnership, along with the owners of the remaining 50 per cent stake - the Whitgift Foundation and Royal London Mutual Insurance Society - have other plans for the Allders site. They are promoting a 320,000 sq ft (29,730 sq m) extension to the centre, named Bishops Court. This would involve redeveloping Allders to create a new 150,000 sq ft (13,935 sq m) department store. A public inquiry into the planning application kicked off on January 25.
A more detailed analysis on this deal will appear in the Febuary 11 issue of Retail Week