Major Scottish shopping centre with dozens of stores put up for sale after owners go bust

One of Scotland’s biggest city shopping centres has been put up for sale after its owners fell into administration.

Four partners at accountancy firm Azets have been appointed joint administrators of Aberdeen Retail 1 Limited and Aberdeen Retail 2 Limited, the Guernsey-based owners and operators of the Granite City’s Bon Accord centre.

The mall, which was built in 1990, extends to two main buildings on George Street and Union Street. It features 460,000 square feet of retail space with 72 units over three floors and 1,400 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 Aberdeen city centre mall features 460,000 square feet of retail space with 72 units over three floors and 1,400 car parking spaces.

The administration is said to have been caused by “unsustainable cash flow problems” stemming from the on-going impact of the pandemic, rising operational costs and “intense” retail competition.

The joint administrators - James Fennessey, Blair Milne, Colin Haig and Matthew Richards - said it was business as usual for the centre while they implement a strategy to ensure that the operating companies can continue to trade and the mall and its assets are prepared for sale.

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 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.”

The administrators said they were encouraging interested parties to make contact as soon as possible and have appointed commercial property agency Cushman & Wakefield to prepare sales particulars and manage the sales process.

All centre management employees are being retained following the appointment of the administrators.

The average annual footfall to the Bon Accord centre pre-Covid amounted to some 15 million visitors.

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.”

Recent figures showed that Scottish retail sales had flatlined amid soaring inflation as industry leaders warned of a “bitter winter” for the nation’s shopkeepers.

Releasing its latest sales monitor, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said total sales north of the Border increased by 4.4 per cent in July compared with a year earlier. However, adjusted for inflation, the year-on-year change was zero.

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