Cascades Shopping Centre in Portsmouth goes up for sale for £18m
THE owners of Cascades Shopping Centre in Portsmouth are remaining tight-lipped over its future after it was put up for sale.
The 250,000sq ft centre, which has 80 units and is anchored by Primark, Next, H&M and TK Maxx, was put up for sale this week for £18m.
However, the listing was not made public. Now representatives of the owners and the agents handling any sale are refusing to comment on proceedings.
The centre, which has been trading for 32 years, is owned by RPMI Railpen, the investment manager for the £31bn Railways Pension Scheme.
It is the primary shopping centre in the city with 1,000 car parking spaces and an average footfall of 197,000 per week.
Sources told The News that the centre sale was being handled by Knight Frank but it is not known whether there is a new buyer or whether Railpen has decided to withdraw its sale.
A source said: ‘The market for shopping centres at the moment is pretty thin. They are a pretty tricky investment to make and there are very few potential buyers.’
However, leader of Portsmouth City Council Gerald Vernon-Jackson confirmed that it was not the council, despite the authority being in long discussions about the centre to coincide with its plans to redevelop the Northern Quarter, now known as New Landport.
He said: ‘My job is to look after council money and I am not going to throw council money into something that carries a significant risk. I would not buy retail at the moment.’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson praised the work of the centre management for keeping the centre going through tough times.
He said: ‘The shopping centre management have done a great job, they have worked hard with things being quite tricky for them. Losing M&S was tough, as was losing BHS, but they have worked hard to bring in imaginative ways to make the shopping centre an interesting place to visit.’
Cllr Ben Dowling, cabinet member for culture, leisure and economic development, said they were waiting to hear more news.
He said: ‘Shopping is, and will remain, an important part of the city centre and we very much look forward to working with the new owners for the future good of the city centre.’
Last year, Sports Direct, Flannels and USC all signed up to units within Cascades, coinciding with an interior refurbishment and a redevelopment that changed its layout, added around 2,500 sq metres of additional retail space, and provided a new focal point within the scheme.
The Sports Direct store, in the former BHS unit, is part of the retailer’s new store concept, featuring brands such as Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Asics and Puma, as well as incorporating a dedicated floorspace for USC, which houses the latest streetwear collections from labels including Converse, Champion, Levi’s, Lacoste and Calvin Klein.
This year has seen shoe shop Deichmann and Cards Direct move into the centre, with Brillen Sunglasses due to open soon.
Recently, in August, independent coffee shop and deli Baffled moved into the centre into a unit in the pop-up grab and go food cluster close to the Commercial Road entrance and immediately adjacent to Yogoo, the frozen yoghurt chain which opened in May.
This is Baffled’s third unit along with Baffled Café in Southsea and the Baffled at the Beach on Southsea Seafront.
Owner Fergus McMurray said he was proud to be in Cascades.
He said: ‘I grew up in Portsmouth so I remember buying shoes in Cascades as a kid, we are very much proud to be here.
‘The loss of the food court all those years ago was a big blow and the only other food offer in the city centre is national chains so we wanted to bring a bit of our approach to the centre with our interesting homemade food.’
RPMI Railpen, Knight Frank and Cascades Shopping Centre all declined to comment.