Metrocentre owners buy up old Fed brewery site

THE owner of the Metrocentre and Eldon Square has bought the Federation Brewery site in Gateshead in a £3m deal.

The old Federation Brewery site
The old Federation Brewery site

THE owner of the Metrocentre and Eldon Square has bought the Federation Brewery site in Gateshead in a £3m deal.

Negotiations to buy the 17 acres next to Europe’s biggest shopping centre started earlier this year between Capital Shopping Centres (CSC) and Heineken, which owned the land.

CSC director of asset management, Martin Breeden, said: “The site also contains the Lancastrian Suite and a warehouse unit let to Thrifty Cars, and the big unoccupied Federation Brewery site. We think it is a really exciting opportunity.”

The former home of Newcastle Brown Ale was put up for sale with a £2m asking price in March last year, 10 months after it ceased production, ending an 82-year history of brewing ale in the region.

Heineken UK, the brewery’s owners, put it up for sale after moving production to Yorkshire.

CSC, which owns 15 major shopping centres around the UK, is currently looking at ways to add value to its malls to encourage shoppers to stay longer. Buying this land is part of the strategy but Breeden was unable to reveal exactly what CSC hopes to do with the site.

He said: “It’s too early to say what form it will take. It may take a little more time before we can talk about it.

“What we’re very conscious of is that we’ve got to provide a great experience for shoppers, a day out.

“MetrOasis, which has just opened, has been hugely successful. Krispy Kreme sold 33,000 doughnuts on their first day. It’s a good opportunity to join together with the retailers to bring in new users.”

MetrOasis, which opened in August, is a £5m catering development between the mall and the Metrocentre Retail Park. Built on the site of the former Esso petrol station, it is within walking distance of the three and a half miles of malls and the family entertainment attractions at Metrocentre Qube.

The Federation Brewery announcement comes as CSC also revealed it is aiming to raise around £300m in a bond offering, with an option of increasing the offer by a further £50m. The bonds are due to mature in 2018.

The money will be used to provide it with more cash for acquisitions, diversify its funding sources and refinance short-term borrowings.

CSC has recently bought Broadmarsh Centre in Nottingham and has been snapping up other properties adjacent to existing centres for future development.

Despite the current bleak outlook for retail, CSC said that, since announcing its interim results in July, occupancy and footfall have remained stable.

The company’s shopping centres attract more than 320 million customers annually.

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