A raft of retailers have been offered exceptional rent-free deals by Hammerson as the landlord sought to pull in big names to Union Square shopping centre in Aberdeen ahead of its opening yesterday.

Property sources claimed Boots had negotiated a seven-year rent-free period on a 10-year lease, although Hammerson denied this.

Another said Marks & Spencer had been given a “significant amount of cash”, while Zara was reportedly also offered a rent-free deal.

Landlords have faced challenges filling shops since the recession hit and retailers collapsed or stopped expanding. Hammerson managing director of UK retail Lawrence Hutchings said it had to offer attractive deals to get the right tenant mix as opposed to “the short-team appeal of just filling the space”. He added: “M&S is an anchor deal and our commercial terms reflect that.
We have to take the long-term view.”

Union Square’s floor space is more than 80% let. Hammerson, along with rivals British Land and Land Securities, was reported this week to have seen the first signs of improved retailer tenant demand.