Shopping centre blow

‘Use it or lose it’ alert as Bon Accord owner fails

The shopping centre will continue to trade (pic: supplied)

A northeast business spokesman has issued a “use it or lose” warning to shoppers after two Guernsey-based firms behind the Bon Accord shopping centre in Aberdeen were placed in administration.

The owner and operator have blamed “unsustainable cash flow problems stemming from the on-going impact of the Covid pandemic, rising operational costs and intense retail competition”.

It remains ‘business as usual’ for the shopping centre while the joint administrators from Azets ensure the operating companies can continue to trade and the centre and its assets are prepared for sale. 

Commercial property agents Cushman & Wakefield have been instructed to manage the sales process.  All centre management employees are being retained.

However, Ryan Crighton, policy director at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “Clearly, this is a concerning development. However, there is precedent with other centres in the UK trading through administration for extended periods, which offers hope.

“The Bon Accord Centre has been at the heart of Aberdeen’s retail offering for over 30 years – and that must continue. However, if people want a vibrant city centre, this should serve as a clear ‘use it or lose it’ warning.

“After years of regressive policies which have starved our high streets of footfall, we now need innovative solutions to get people back into our city centres to live, work and play.

“That action needs to be swift, decisive and tangible.”

The 460,000 sq ft Bon Accord, which was built in 1990, embraces two main buildings on George Street and Union Street with 72 retail units over three floors and 1400 car parking spaces in two owner-operated car parks to the north and south sides of the centre. 

Additional period buildings on George Street, Upper Kirkgate, Loch Street and Gallowgate provide a further 90,000 sq ft of retail and ancillary space, 6,300 sq ft of offices, residential units, and the listed Students Union building.  The average annual footfall to the Bon Accord Shopping Centre pre-Covid was 15 million visitors.

James Fennessey, Blair Milne, Colin Haig and Matthew Richards, partners with Azets, have been appointed joint administrators of Aberdeen Retail 1 Limited and Aberdeen Retail 2 Limited.

James Fennessey
James Fennessey: keen to find a buyer

Mr Fennessey, restructuring partner with Azets, said: “The Bon Accord Shopping Centre and the St Nicholas Centre, which merged with the Bon Accord in 2020, are long-established and retail centres with a very strong brand name and awareness across the North of Scotland. 

“They have consistently attracted and retained a wide range of quality retail tenants over the years, and regularly draw hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. 

“The contribution of the Bon Accord to the economy of the North-East is significant and the centre is as much a social hub and focal point for the city as it is a retail centre. We will now quickly stabilise the trading position and wish to reassure tenants, shoppers and stakeholders that it is very much business as usual.

“Interested parties are asked to contact the selling agents, Cushman & Wakefield, as soon as possible as we are keen to try and find a buyer promptly.”

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