A MAJOR retailer has revealed that it is ‘in talks’ with the new owners of Burton’s biggest shopping centre about opening a store in the town.
Debenhams confirmed to the Mail that it was holding discussions with real estate fund manager F&C REIT which snapped up Coopers Square from Grosvenor Fund Management, a year after it went on the market.
The retail giant also revealed that at no time had it suspended talks over proposals to open a flagship department store in the town as part of £25 million extension plans for the centre.
A spokesman for the firm said: “We are currently in talks, but that’s all we can stay at this stage.
“We never actually suspended talks so we’re not sure where this information came from.”
The proposals, granted planning permission by East Staffordshire Borough Council in October, include provision for 11 two-storey shops, a Debenhams department store and a rooftop car park.
Joanne Wilkes, F&C’s head of in-town retail, said: “We are obviously aware of the proposals that were put together by Grosvenor, the previous owners, before our clients’ purchase of the centre.
“Over the next few months we will be reviewing the options before taking a final decision on our strategy here.”
Debenhams has signed a contract to open a department store in Coopers Square.
Burton’s MP Andrew Griffiths said he hoped the acquisition by F&C, which already owns Burton’s Middleway Retail Park and has other interests in the town, would prove the catalyst for the completion of the centre’s extension plans.
He said: “I have my fingers crossed that this new investment will also produce the long-awaited Debenhams, which I believe will make us a shopping centre of choice for many people in the area and will have a massive knock-on effect on small independent retailers in the town. I’m convinced that having a major national department store in the town will act as a magnet to attract shoppers who will then spend money in other shops, restaurants and cafes in the town centre.”
As revealed by the Mail in January last year, Grosvenor opted to sell Coopers Square as the fund it managed for investors in the centre was due to expire.