Jul 22, 2021
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New Touchwood shopping centre owner has big UK plans

Jul 22, 2021

New owner. Big plans. Acquisition-hungry The Ardent Companies has completed the takeover of Touchwood shopping centre in Solihull, West Midlands, from Lendlease Retail Partnership, for an undisclosed sum.

Touchwood shopping centre, Solihull

Expect the US-based new owner to improve its appeal and shopping environment by “driving a raft of new initiatives… focused on attracting the latest retail and leisure concepts to the centre”. It also noted it has already been “inheriting significant demand for space from potential new occupiers”.

Meanwhile, the real estate investment firm also said it’s looking to add more centres to its fledgling UK portfolio. Having acquired 1.4 million sq ft of industrial space from M7 Real Estate in March for development, it’s now “actively seeking opportunities” to acquire and reposition high-performing assets across other UK property sectors, and to work with best-in-class asset managers to grow the value of its investments”.

For now, Ardent’s big plans for the Touchwood centre include appointing Sovereign Centros as asset manager and Cushman & Wakefield and Knight Frank as joint leasing agents. 

Together, they’re planning to “enhance the established offering at Touchwood, encompassing 650,000 sq ft of high-quality retail, restaurant, and leisure space", through a new asset management initiative it is calling ‘Project Atlanta’. 

Working with existing tenants, which include Zara, Next, Apple and John Lewis, Project Atlanta will aim to continue to improve the shopping environment.

It will see Ardent and Sovereign Centros working closely with Solihull Council to implement a series of improvements to Touchwood’s signage, entrances and the main arcades "to maximise the opportunities for Solihull as a key visitor location and capitalise on regional investment initiatives". That includes the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, with nearly 50% of all events being hosted within Solihull Borough. 

Matt Shulman, CEO at The Ardent Companies, said: “Touchwood is an exceptional shopping centre and completing the acquisition marks a new milestone for our UK investment platform, which we are excited to grow further in alignment with our strategies and objectives in the US”.

Andrew Hilston, managing director at Ardent UK, added: ’Touchwood’s exceptional location and strong tenant line-up were important factors in our decision to invest - underpinned by its emergence as the only John Lewis anchored centre in the region. 

“Solihull is poised for growth as a key commercial location within the West Midlands and we have already received numerous competitive approaches for space at the centre from potential occupiers across retail, leisure and hospitality”.

James Merrett, Retail & Leisure Partner at Cushman & Wakefield, also said: “We have identified major potential to refresh Touchwood’s offering with new retail, F&B and leisure operators and using our extensive UK mall experience we are energised to help the new owners create a remarkable shopping, dining and leisure destination at Touchwood”.

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