ALB Group has completed the purchase of Sailmakers shopping centre, in Tavern Street, Ipswich, which is home to numerous high street brands including Boots, HMV, River Island, Poundland and Baldwins department store, and the refurbishment process has already begun.
With around 25% of the 133,000sq ft of retail space currently unoccupied, including the 7,500sq ft former Top Shop store, the new owner is promising to take a fresh approach to encourage more local businesses into the space.
Part of this resurgence plan includes the complete refurbishment of two units in the centre and earmarking them for local designers, artists, charities or businesses interested in taking on an eight-week “pop-up” opportunity at a very low rent.
ALB Group has been busy acquiring town centre properties in other parts of the UK in a drive to “rethink and revive” struggling high streets.
Its key strategy is to offer more affordable and shorter, more flexible leases in order to breathe new life into the nation’s towns and cities, as well as creating a more attractive environment for local, independent entrepreneurs to trade.
Arran Bailey, managing director of ALB Group, said: “We are determined to rethink the way high streets are managed and offer these important community centres the chance of revival.
“Sailmakers represents a significant acquisition for ALB, and we can’t wait to support Ipswich along its road to recovery.”
Spearheading the marketing of the available retail units in Sailmakers shopping centre on behalf of ALB Group are commercial agents Prime Retail and FHP.
Tim Lloyd, partner at Prime Retail, said: “I’m excited to be working alongside a company as forward-thinking and hands-on as ALB Group. Sailmakers has been in desperate need of new owners for some time and, as a resident of Ipswich myself, I see true potential here. If we can target independent and local operators and offer flexibility with low costs on units that are ready for immediate occupation, we will help to begin the revival.”
ALB has already begun the task of improving town and city centres with recent property purchases in Birkenhead, Stoke-on-Trent, Huddersfield, Derby and Nottingham.