Major retail group 'eyeing up' Exeter shopping centre

-Credit: (Image: Mary Stenson/DevonLive)
-Credit: (Image: Mary Stenson/DevonLive)

A major retail group which owns some of the UK's most well-known retail brands is reportedly eyeing up a 50 per cent stake in Exeter's Princesshay shopping centre.

Earlier this year, global investment management company Nuveen put its 50 per cent interest in the shopping centre up for sale with a reported asking price of £40million. The other half of the Princesshay estate is owned by the King's property company The Crown Estate.

It has since been reported by The Times that Frasers Group is believed to be the "frontrunner" to purchase the stake, according to a "retail property source". The group is behind a number of popular brands, including Sports Direct, House of Fraser, Game & Belong, Jack Wills and Slazenger and is majority-owned by retail tycoon Mike Ashley, who is understood to hold a share of more 60 per cent.

Savills Estate Agents have been appointed to carry out the sale but have declined to comment on the level of interest there has been or whether Frasers Group is a prospective buyer. Nuveen has also said they are unable to comment. DevonLive has contacted Frasers Group but we are yet to receive a response.

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Last year, the company purchased The Mall shopping centre in Luton and the Overgate Centre in Dundee. They said they had "confidence in the future of the UK high street and remain committed to investing in sites which display huge potential."

A large chunk of the Princesshay shopping centre remains in limbo as last month marked three years of the large Debenhams unit standing empty after the collapse of Arcadia Group prompted its closure in May 2021. Opposite the former department store, there is a row of five empty units, all of which have been vacant for at least a year.

Earlier this year, there were rumours that Primark could be moving into the old Debenhams store but the retailer told DevonLive it had no plans to relocate its Exeter branch and that it couldn't "comment on speculation about where we might open next."

In October 2023, The Crown Estate confirmed that it was receiving interest for empty units in Princesshay but was unable to provide a more detailed update.