A privately-owned investment and development company, Native Land, has announced that it has exchanged contracts to acquire a circa. 230,000 sq ft Debenhams department store in Guildford town centre.
The £20 million valued building, which was owned by M&G Real Estate was built in the 1960s and has been described by Native Land as a ‘pathfinder initiative’ for further department store and shopping centre acquisitions by the firm.
Commenting on the sale, John Duxbury, Head of Retail and Leisure at M&G Real Estate said: “The disposal of the Debenhams unit in Guildford town centre is part of M&G’s longer-term active management to repurpose the site. The role of town centres is changing, and the Debenhams unit is the perfect redevelopment opportunity to convert this retail asset for uses which cater for the needs of the local community.”
The acquisition is part of Native Land’s overall strategy to identify redevelopment opportunities in fundamentally strong UK towns and cities. Native Land say that they are repositioning retail assets at a time when urban centres are rethinking the future of their high streets amid continued challenges from online retailers.
Current occupants Debenhams, do hold a long lease on the building with options to break in 2021. However, with the business entering administration, it remains to be seen if they will be able to extend.
Alasdair Nicholls, Chief Executive of Native Land, said:“The Debenhams department store in Guildford is a perfect opportunity to unlock the potential of land and buildings, to revitalise urban neighbourhoods. This is especially relevant to town centre locations, where repurposing bricks-and-mortar will ensure sustainable futures. Guildford is an affluent town which is also benefitting from the growing trend in living outside London and working from home.”