GCW sells first of Agora's four centres

September 2013

GCW has agreed a deal to sell Preston’s Fishergate Centre in the first of a programme of sales of the assets of the defunct Agora Shopping Centre fund.

The deal sees Benson Elliot buy the centre for £40 million from the administrators of the fund, Deloitte.

GCW was appointed earlier this year to act as letting agents and to assist with asset management of the Agora fund, made up of four shopping centres; Cavern Walks in Liverpool, Fishergate in Preston, Market Place in Bolton and Middleton near Manchester, plus some ancillary properties.

“The Fishergate Centre was a prime opportunity and we attracted a number of competing bids. We were able to demonstrate that there was plenty of tenant demand, particularly if there was investment in the centre and some of the units were reconfigured” says GCW director David Gooch.

GCW will now continue to act as letting agent at the Fishergate Centre and will work as part of Benson Elliot’s development team.

Benson Elliot’s Peter Cornforth says that both Preston as a city and the Fishergate Centre in particular offer plenty of opportunities. Development in Preston has been on hold for some time as retailers waited to see the outcome of the proposed Tithebarn scheme. With that now formally off the cards, retailers are ready to commit to better units or take their first stores in the city centre.

“Preston has a modest national profile for a city with a top 30 shopping population and has an exciting future being at the forefront of the UK’s development of a shale gas industry. Fishergate offers plenty of scope to attract retailers who want large modern units at the heart of a significant catchment” says Cornforth.

Primark, Debenhams, TK Maxx and Argos already trade from stores in the centre.

Future developments will include the reconfiguration of an old TJ Hughes department store fronting the centre’s 750 space surface car park. The new owner will also explore bringing new restaurants and a cinema into its scheme.

Benson Elliot was represented by Strutt & Parker on the purchase.