HOPES are high Blackpool is set for a retail bonanza after the £85m sale of its biggest shopping centre.
Blackstone – the American-based investment firm that already owns stakes in Merlin Entertainment and Hilton – has joined forces with Catalyst Capital to create a new shopping business in the UK.
And the firms have done so after being impressed with the level of investment in the resort.
The deal takes the Houndshill away from Modus Corovest, which has been in administration for the past two years, putting a stop to the centre’s proposed expansion plans.
Hopes have been raised that Houndshill’s stalled phase of development could now go ahead.
Alan Cavill, deputy chief executive at Blackpool Council, said: “This is fantastic news that such a global company has interest in Blackpool. And I’m sure it’s good news for the Houndshill and its potential future expansion plans and improvements.
“Blackstone already has a lot invested in Blackpool.
“This shows things are getting better and that Blackpool is a town to be invested in.”
And town centre manager Eileen Ormand was delighted with the news. She said: “We’re overwhelmed that people are investing so much in the resort.
“We’ve seen a real turn towards investment which shows the town is really on the up.”
Houndshill deputy manager Russ Neve added: “It’s excellent news. It takes us out of administration which we’ve been in for the past two years.
“It can only be good for the Houndshill and for Blackpool as well – it shows we’re heading in the right direction.”
The sale of the centre follows record numbers – 1,148,755 shoppers used the centre in October.
James Lock, from Blackstone’s Real Estate team, said: “Blackpool is the most popular seaside resort in the UK and is currently undergoing a regeneration, with significant investment in the beachfront promenade, the Winter Gardens and the Blackpool Tower, which has already had a positive effect on visitor numbers to the town.
“The scheme is ideally placed to benefit from this and to satisfy the latent retailer demand for the town. Blackstone is already an investor in Blackpool through our investment in Hilton hotels and Merlin Entertainments, so this is a natural fit for us.”
Ilan Goldman from Catalyst Capital, added: “We’re looking forward to putting our plans for the Houndshill into motion.”