Land Securities wanting half of the X factor

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LAND Securities, the company behind the £350m Trinity Leeds retail and leisure development, is in advanced talks to buy a 50 per cent stake in X-Leisure, which runs the Xscape indoor ski slope in Castleford.

Capital & Regional said it has received a proposal to buy its 50 per cent stake in X-Leisure.

The company said that if an offer is made it would need to get shareholder approval due to the size of the disposal.

Land Securities has previously expressed interest in boosting its 12 per cent stake in the business.

It spent £30.5m on acquiring the stake from a number of institutional investors earlier this year.

X-Leisure owns schemes across the UK, including Xscape in Milton Keynes and Brighton Marina.

Xscape offers day and night family entertainment with movies, real snow slopes, bowling, shopping, bars, restaurants and extreme activities.

It runs three real indoor snow slopes in Castleford, Milton Keynes and Braehead and employs over 400 staff.

Land Securities is understood to be willing to pay £100m for a majority stake in X-Leisure.

Last week the company said its Trinity Leeds development is 84 per cent let after signing up a number of new tenants including upmarket lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret.

The one million sq ft site, the only major new shopping centre under construction in the UK, is now 76 per cent pre-let with a further eight per cent in solicitors’ hands.

Land Securities’ portfolio director Gerald Jennings described the signing of Victoria’s Secret as “a real coup”.

“This is big news for us. To get an iconic international retailer to come to Trinity Leeds is fantastic. Victoria’s Secret will only open stores in very selective locations.”

The brand currently has only two stores in the UK in New Bond Street in central London and Westfield Stratford City in East London.

“It’s a very powerful brand. It’s new, exciting, high quality and chic,” said Mr Jennings. “It’s not just another lingerie retailer.”

When Trinity Leeds opens on March 21 next year, key tenants will include Marks & Spencer, Primark, Cult, Hollister, Next, River Island, H&M, and Topshop/Topman.

The Topshop store fronting Briggate opened last month.

“The Topshop staff have iPads – it’s a level of customer service that’s a notch above what you get on the high street and that will be seen across Trinity Leeds,” said Mr Jennings.

Land Securities has spent £15m changing the scheme to create a new food service area and restructure an existing Boots store.

The company is keen to extend and improve the food and beverage offer in line with greater demand from shoppers for places to eat and drink.

“We are allocating more than 20 per cent of space for catering. There’s a greater requirement from consumers for more than just shopping,” said Mr Jennings.

“The cinema and the restaurants at Trinity Leeds will change the evening economy in Leeds. It will really create evening activity.”

Land Securities’ chief executive Rob Noel said: “For both retailers and consumers, the leisure and food and beverage offer in retail centres, together with convenience, continue to be important drivers of behaviour.

“Retailers retain a preference for larger shopping centres and out-of-town locations. Our portfolio is positioned to take advantage of this.”

Mr Noel said that consumers are shopping less often, but taking longer and spending more per trip.

“This shift is something our own portfolio has mirrored in the period with footfall down but retailer sales up,” he added.

Mr Jennings said that the White Rose centre south of Leeds has seen stable footfall at 12.5 million customers a year.

“White Rose has not seen footfall come off.

“People are saying that when they visit, they’ll stay longer and that means they’re spending more money,” he said.