The wisdom (or lack of it) of Sefton Council’s sinking of £35 million of local people’s cash into buying up Bootle Strand shopping centre has been called into question yet again as INTU, the firm owning Britain’s biggest shopping centres, has collapsed into administration.
Lower rent payments during the COVID-19 crisis put extra pressure on the firm. But although the firm has collapsed, it says that malls such as Manchester’s Trafford Centre will remain open. Intu employs nearly 3,000 staff across the UK, while a further 102,000 work for the shops trading within its shopping centres.
INTU is still hoping to arrange a ‘standstill agreement’ with its lenders, however it has warned that if it cannot reach such a deal “there is a risk that centres may have to close for a period”.
INTU’s centres include the huge Lakeside Centre in Essex, the Gateshead Metro Centre and Manchester’s Arndale Centre as well as the Trafford Centre. The group had limped on under a £4.5 billion debt burden during the past year, but has been completely ‘hammered’ by significantly lower rent payments from retail tenants since the coronavirus outbreak and so has had to ‘call it a day’.