Hammerson seeks hotel operator for phase two of Victoria Gate

THE developer behind a major city shopping centre is looking for a hotel operator to anchor the second phase of the scheme, it said today.

Victoria Gate, Leeds

Unveiling its half-year results, Hammerson, which is masterplanning the second phase of its Victoria Gate development, said it was looking for an operator for a 300-bed hotel next to a new multi-storey car park.

A spokeswoman told The Yorkshire Post it was too early to say what sort of operator it was looking for.

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She added: “We are currently at an early stage and working with the council to move towards a revised planning application submission.”

The £165m first phase of Victoria Gate, which includes John Lewis, opened in October last year and, together with the adjacent Victoria Quarter, is currently 90 per cent let.

Hammerson said it “performed well in the first half of 2017”.

It hailed the recent openings of D&D London’s two rooftop restaurants: Issho and East 59th. “These will significantly boost the dining offer and encourage increased dwell times,” it said in a statement.

Hammerson’s arcades include 30 new retail brands, with 77 per cent making their Leeds debut.

Footfall at Victoria Quarter is up 20 per cent as a result of new development and city centre footfall has also increased by four per cent, according to Hammerson.

Meanwhile, Victoria Gate was awarded Best Shopping Centre at the internationally-renowned MIPIM awards in March beating competition from new centres in the Far East.

Hammerson declined to respond to questions about which retail units at the centre were being actively marketed following rumours that three tenants were already looking to move out.

A key retail agent raised questions earlier this month about whether the scheme is ‘too high-end’, although it is understood that some retailers including John Lewis and Pret-a-Manger, are trading well.

A spokeswoman said: “The initial response to the new development has been very encouraging, boosted in recent weeks by the opening of 2 D&D rooftop restaurants at Victoria Gate. In the second half of the year, we are focused on enhancing the retail and dining offer further for our customers.”

Hammerson cheered a jump in profits on the back of rising rental income and improved property values.

The retail property firm said half year pre-tax profits rose to £289.3m, up from £166.1m last year.

Victoria Gate helped net rental income to climb 9.7 per cent to £184m for the six months to the end of June and boost the portfolio value by 5.6 per cent to £10.5bn, alongside Hammerson’s other new developments.

Chief executive David Atkins said: “This performance is particularly pleasing in the context of a more uncertain political and economic backdrop and structural shifts in the retail sector.”