Merry Hill shopping centre is to undergo a major overhaul aimed at broadening the retail hub’s appeal in a post-covid landscape by increasing its leisure offer.
Asset manager Ellandi has outlined a programme of renovation works worth £50 million as it aims to keep the centre relevant following a tumultuous time for the retail landscape as consumer habits changed and online shopping boomed during the coronavirus lockdown.
The London-based firm took over as asset manager in September following the collapse of previous owner Intu three months earlier and oversees operation and development on behalf of a consortium of banks that now own the site.
Among the proposals it is now outlining include a new family entertainment leisure district aimed at visitors of all ages and an improved range of cafés, pubs and restaurants throughout the two million sq ft shopping centre in Brierley Hill.
Signage and wayfinding will also be improved and all Intu signage has now been removed as work nears completion on new decorative panelling outside the centre.
The CoventryLive Business Awards are back for 2021 and now open for entries here.
The event will be held at Coventry Building Society Arena on October 14 and will celebrate achievement across a broad range of categories including our overall Company of the Year.
The deadline to enter the awards is Friday August 20 and sponsorship opportunities are also now available.
Please email [email protected] for details and follow the hashtag #CovLiveBusinessAwards for updates on social media.
A number of stores are planning their own upgrade work, including Asda which has earmarked £3 million for its huge supermarket there, while work at The Waterfront will build on that carried out there in recent years, adding to its community of restaurants, shops and educational and community organisations.
Solar panels and more than 200 electric vehicle charging points will also be installed as part of a wider ambition to make the centre net zero by 2030.
The programme of improvements is due to start in September and is expected to be completed in 2025.
Despite the pandemic and numerous lockdowns, Merry Hill has still welcomed 22 new or renewed agreements with occupiers including legendary toy store Hamleys which opened a new branch last week.
Negotiations are also under way with occupiers over a further 20 vacant units.
As an extra boost to the centre, an extension of the West Midlands Metro, which will provide a direct tram link between Birmingham city centre and Merry Hill, is due to open by the end of 2023.
Around 16 million visits were made to Merry Hill during 2020, according to Ellandi, with footfall now recovering to nearly 2019 levels.
Ellandi’s co-founder Mark Robinson said: “Our plans mean that by July 2025, Merry Hill will be the West Midlands’ most vibrant family lifestyle destination, embedded right in the heart of the local community.
“When complete, shoppers will be able to visit a range of new, big-name brands, in addition to familiar favourites and independent retailers.
“We are working with key stakeholders such as Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council to ensure the arrival of the metro and the exciting Future High Street Fund plans for Brierley Hill are built on to create an inclusive environment for the local community as well as a best-in-class regional destination.
“We are extremely confident that our ambitious plans will transform the centre into the premier retail and leisure designation of choice for the West Midlands – creating a cherished destination the whole community can take pride in.”
A new centre manager has also been appointed, with Jonathan Poole recently commencing in the role having moved from The Liberty centre in Romford where he was also centre manager.
He said: “I am delighted to have joined Merry Hill at such an exciting and transformative point in its history, with this announcement putting it on track to become the unrivalled shopping and family leisure destination for the West Midlands.
“The West Midlands is a wonderfully diverse and welcoming part of the country and I have been truly blown away by the amount of pride people take in their local culture and heritage.
“The programme of improvements, upgrades and attractions will breathe new life into the centre, delivering an unparalleled experience for visitors from all over the region.”