Network Rail has today announced the completion of its leasehold purchase of the Victoria Place shopping centre at Victoria station in London.
The national train network has seized ownership of the 83,000 sq ft retail space from previous owner William Ewart for £91.8 million.
It is hoped that the new space will lead to a reduction in congestion at the busy station, which welcomes over 70 million passengers each year, as well as increase revenue to reinvest in the railways.
The shopping centre lies directly above Victoria station the freehold of which is already owned by Network Rail, and has stores over three levels, with 35 units and 11 permanent kiosks anchored by Sainsbury’s, with a mix of casual dining, fashion and convenience brands.
Network Rail’s acquisition follows news that train station retail is far outperforming the high street, as trading at the rail operator’s UK train stations rose 5.17 per cent from January to March 2011, whilst overall retail sales fell 0.8 per cent year-on-year during the same period.
David Biggs, Network Rail’s Director of Property, said that this development is positive news for the station, its passengers and retailers.
“The purchase is one of the first steps to deliver our vision of creating destination stations where travellers, shoppers and families can enjoy unique retail experiences in exciting contemporary surroundings fit for today’s demanding customers and rail passengers,” he commented.
“Retail in stations continues to go from strength to strength. Our sales results consistently show growth levels well above the high street. We have the essential locations and high customer traffic to help brands perform to their full potential.”
At a time when cash-strapped passengers face an increase in train fares in January, the network is quick to point out that all profit from retail activity is re-invested in the railway, limiting the cost to tax payers and passengers.
Mike Goggin, Network Rail’s Director of Stations & Customer Service, welcomed the move.
“The purchase of Victoria Place shopping centre will allow us, in due course, to reconfigure the current concourse to give passengers more space to move around, whilst at the same time continuing to provide the wide range of retail facilities people rely on at busy mainline stations,” he said.