Intu to invest GBP25m on new brand and roll-out

Posted On Thursday, 07 March 2013 08:08 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Rebranding of JSE-listed Intu Properties 'takes us a notch ahead of our UK competition', says CE David Fischel
 
 
David FischelThe group, which is listed in both London and on the JSE and which has a significant South African shareholding, announced in January that it was establishing a single nationwide brand for its centres and changing its name, while rolling out digital infrastructure in its malls.
 
Intu’s directly managed malls are being rebranded with the Intu logo. The original names of the centres will be changed to include the group’s name; for example, Lakeside will be renamed Intu Lakeside. The group will invest £25m on brand creation and roll-out, as well as on digital infrastructure including providing free Wi-Fi at its malls, and on Intu.co.uk, a fashion-focused, mobile-enabled e-commerce website.
 
The website, expected to break even in three years, meant Intu could do business when its centres were closed, and “virtual retailers” not represented in Intu’s centres had already signed up. Mr Fischel said the rebranding was “a bold move” that had already had “a great cultural impact across the organisation”. Intu would be able to deliver more to customers, and retailers were likely to benefit from increased footfall and dwell-time by consumers, while the creation of the single consumer brand would open up national marketing opportunities for Intu.
 
The group also had a £1bn investment pipeline over the next decade that included major extension projects of existing assets. While the scope for new shopping centre developments in the UK was limited, Intu was “not short of growth opportunities”, Mr Fischel said. Last week, Intu raised £280m by placing shares with its London and Johannesburg investors — largely aimed at paying for the £250.5m cash acquisition of Midsummer Place Shopping Centre, at Milton Keynes, about 90km northwest of London.
 
Mr Fischel said Milton Keynes was a relatively new town with a catchment of 1.3-million people. The rentals in the shopping centre were “fundamentally low” and underpriced against other UK shopping centres, meaning there was room for growth. Other major projects included the redevelopment of the adjoining Charter Place to Intu’s Watford centre, where the group planned to invest £80m.
 
Also last week, Intu announced the establishment of a new debtfunding platform, a special purpose vehicle for issuing investment grade secured debt.
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