METROCENTRE owner Capital Shopping Centres said yesterday it was hoping to add more “aspirational brands” to its new Platinum Mall at the Gateshead site in time for Christmas.
The 360 Champagne Bar and Mamas & Papas have already opened in the latest development at the Metro Centre with more names expected to be announced soon.
Bosses had previously indicated they would like to see the likes of Hugo Boss and Armani sign up for the development.
CSC, which also owns Eldon Square among its portfolio of 15 shopping centres, recently acquired the former Federation Brewery site of 17 acres next to the Metrocentre in a £2.8m deal for further development.
Group-wide, CSC has brought in a number of new names and signed 45 new long-term leases between July and the start of November. In all 60 new stores opened during the period.
Beauty product brand L’Occitane has moved into Eldon Square, along with shoe shop Office, which has opened its largest store in the North in the centre.
The group said in a trading update yesterday that occupancy levels across its shopping centres was “broadly steady” at 96%, in contrast to UK town centre vacancy rates of around 15%.
It said: “We have successfully relet the majority of the 131 units (6%) affected by tenant failures in the year to date.
“However, 48 units (2%) still remain closed and in the hands of administrators.”
It also pointed to a second consecutive quarter of improving year-on-year footfall, now 1% down on the same period in 2011, which was better than the 3% national fall.
David Fischel, Capital’s chief executive, said: “Our prime UK shopping centres have recorded positive momentum with steady footfall figures and the opening of 60 new stores and restaurants in the period.
“We continue to make good progress on our pipeline of active management projects and extensions which will ensure that our centres continue to provide attractive destinations to consumers and retailers for the long term.”
CSC reckons that its centres, which also include Manchester’s Trafford Centre, attract 30 million individual visitors each year.
CSC’s report was issued on the same day that figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showed a 0.1% fall in like for like sales during October, compared to a year earlier. Total sales 1.1% higher, against a 1.5% rise in October 2011.
Stephen Robertson, BRC director General, British Retail Consortium, said: “Unfortunately it looks like the modest sales revival we saw in September was something of a false dawn.
“Excluding April, hit by this year’s earlier Easter, October saw the worst sales growth since last November.
“The disappointing figures are a reminder of the difficult economic realities many are still facing. Falling consumer confidence means people are limiting spending to essential items and are cautious about committing to big-ticket and discretionary buying.”