// Primark renews lease for its anchor store at Intu Watford
// The news provides a glimmer of hope as Intu pushes on with its administration
Primark has renewed the lease on its store at Intu Watford, providing a vote of confidence for the embattled shopping centre empire as it pushes on with its administration.
Contracts have been exchanged and Primark continues to trade from its existing anchor unit, neighbouring a number of other retailers, such as M&S, Lego and JD Sports.
Intu said the renewal of the Watford lease by Primark is indicative of the retailer’s continued confidence in physical retail, despite the recent challenges posed by Covid-19.
- Intu Milton Keynes snapped up by property group
- Intu Derby becomes first of 17 centres to be snapped up since administration
- Intu SGS secures £30m to take full control of 4 Intu centres
The news also follows a number of new openings at Intu Watford over recent months, including that of luxury watch brand Tag Heuer in July.
In June, Intu fell into administration when crunch talks with its lenders were unsuccessful after a plunge in rental income due to many retail tenants struggling to pay rent during the lockdown period.
Its shares on the London Stock Exchange have been suspended but Intu said its 17 shopping centres across the UK, which are held in separate operating companies, would continue to trade for the time being despite its insolvency.
Last week, Intu Milton Keynes become the latest of Intu’s shopping centres to have secured a new asset manager since the company fell into administration.
Intu Merry Hill in the West Midlands and Intu Derby have also had a change of hands as a result of the administration process.
Meanwhile in August, the holding company for Intu Watford and three other Intu centres, Intu SGS, recently secured £30 million of new investment and waivers on financial covenants to take full control of the four assets with a full migration expected later this year.
The three other Intu centres under Intu SGS ownership include Lakeside, Victoria Centre in Nottingham and Braehead in Glasgow.
Intu said the Watford centre has been performing well post-lockdown, with 95 per cent of units now open and trading again.
Safety measures have also been implemented, including limits on visitor numbers, one-way systems, provision of hand sanitiser and enhanced cleaning regimes.
“Primark’s decision to renew with Intu Watford is exciting news, and indicative of a steady increase in confidence as we adjust in the wake of the pandemic,” said Kate Grant, speaking on behalf of Intu Watford.
“The store, which is an anchor for the centre, continues to be in good company – with a range of exciting, international retail brands also holding space.”
She added: “We’re continuing to see good interest in our space from both existing and prospective tenants, and brands remain confident about our offering.
“We’re carefully managing our centre as people return to the shops post Covid-19 – something valued by our customers.
“We have a range of safety measures in place to ensure shoppers feel secure, and we’re ready to adapt quickly, as and when government advice changes.”
Primark property director Tom Meager said: “We’re happy to renew our lease at Intu Watford, which is a prime retail space and important store for Primark in the UK.
“We look forward to continuing to welcome our customers back to our store and providing them with the quality, affordable products they love from Primark.
“Nothing matters more to us than the safety and well-being of our employees and customers, and we have put in place extensive measures to help people feel safe while shopping in our stores, such as a strict social distancing protocol, Perspex screens at open tills and hand sanitising stations at store entrances.”