Shopping centre operator Sovereign Centros has taken ownership of the Metrocentre in Gateshead, as the assets of former institutional landlord Intu continue to be sold off.

Sovereign Centros, which also operates other retail schemes including the Telford Centre and St Enoch in Glasgow, said it would manage the centre, while property firm Savills will take responsibility for the onsite property management.

The shopping centre’s new owners vowed to “inject new life” into Metrocentre and would potentially make up to £25m available for future investment in the site. 

The landlord also made a commitment to invest in the adjacent retail park and bring in “new” and “exciting” occupiers to improve the offer. 

Sovereign Centros chief executive Chris Geaves said: “This is a very important day and we are delighted to be taking the centre over. There are clearly challenges for us all at this time but we want to take this important asset back to where it was as ‘The Metrocentre’, which the local community were always very proud of.”

The transfer of the centre follows retail property giant Intu’s administration in June, after failing to reach a standstill agreement with its creditors.

Two former Intu shopping centres, Merry Hill in the West Midlands and Milton Keynes shopping centre, have both since been taken over by landlord Ellandi. 

Intu’s demise reflects tough conditions in retail property. Changes to shopping habits, such as more buying online, put pressure on valuations. The coronavirus outbreak and resulting lockdown, when many stores were closed and many retailers did not pay rent, accelerated problems. Landlords have also been impacted by a wave of retail CVAs resulting in store closures and lower rents