Joe O'Reilly's Chartered Land has lodged the planning application for its 1.7 million-sq ft Dublin Central project, linking Henry Street and O'Connell Street in Dublin's Northside.

Planning permission has been granted for the Irish Midlands' biggest retail scheme in Mullingar.

The highly-rated research team at CBRE in Dublin has moved to quell fears of oversupply in the Irish retail market, despite the surge in new development in recent years and a downturn in consumer confidence.

US fashion giant Gant is to open its first stand-alone store in Ireland at Dundrum, the 850,000 sq ft shopping centre 5km to the south of Dublin the centre. The Gant store will trade from 5,800 sq ft over two floors and will be situated in the centre's Pembroke District close to Harvey Nichols, Urban Outfitters and LK Bennett.

Arecent survey by CBRE showed strong penetration of the Irish market by international retailers, led by the UK. So is there still a place for Irish retailers and Irish retail brands in Ireland's shopping mix?

Now that the Athlone Town Centre is up and running as a very successful new regional shopping centre, questions are starting to get asked about whether the wider Midlands area is going to become over-shopped, that too many mall development plans are in the pipeline, especially as consumer spending slows down. But this hasn't deterred the developers.

Cork-based Owen O'Callaghan is one of Ireland's best- known retail property developers, but he's in the public eye for all the wrong reasons - the ongoing Mahon Tribunal at Dublin Castle enquiring into corrupt payments for politicians.

When Harvey Norman announced, with a modest fanfare, just over five years ago, that it was to open two stores in Ireland in the summer of 2003, no one in Irish retailing took much notice. It may have been a big noise in electrical and computer retailing in its native Australia, but it had rarely come to attention in Irish retailing.

The continued slump in shopping centre values is putting owners under pressure, with both Capital & Regional and Capital Shopping Centres having to report gloomy news to shareholders.

Promotion Space Group has confirmed its position as the UK's leading shopping centre commercialisation specialist by acquiring its main competitor, London-based Brandspace. Brandspace CEO Paul Soanes will join the Promotion Space board as group business development director.

Grosvenor has agreed deals with Ghost, Dune and L'Occitane five weeks ahead of the phase one launch of Liverpool One on May 29.

After a successful first two months of trading, six new stores are now open for business at Eden, High Wycombe. The new 850,000-sq ft centre opened its doors in March and has already attracted 350,000 visitors per week.

Land Securities' and Capital Shopping Centres' St David's Partnership has signed seven fashion retailers, all of which will be opening their first store in Wales when the 967,500-sq ft scheme opens next year.

With 50 million sq ft of development space due to be delivered by 2012 and with consumer confidence at a 15-year low, the key to success for both developers and retailers could lie in targeting those consumers who are immune to the credit crunch, according to CACI's latest Retail Footprint survey.

Graeme Newman, managing director of Sovereign Land, passed away on Thursday 17 April 2008 at the Princess Alice Hospital in Esher.

I know it seems a long while ago now but, before Christmas, the pundits were all saying that the market downturn would continue into the spring, when values would bottom out before staging a modest recovery in the second half of 2008.

The tussle between Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson to become Mayor of London may have been hogging the headlines, but London saw another important ballot this spring, with retailers in Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street voting to renew the New West End Company's (NWEC) mandate to continue as the UK's biggest Business Improvement District.

Manchester has witnessed one of the UK's biggest city centre transformations in recent years, with an investment in retail, leisure, sport and conference facilities assisting in whizzing the city into the top three spot in the UK for people to visit.

Over the past few years, retail merchandising units (RMUs) have become a standard part of many of the UK's shopping centres, and they continue to evolve, with new design concepts constantly being introduced by manufacturers.

Gift cards have fast become a popular method for shopping centres to earn extra income, with not only the centre benefiting from additional revenue but also retailers receiving a lift in trade.

The Commercialisation Forum, led by Byron Lewis of Lewis Commercialisation, is due to meet with the BCSC this month to discuss the possibility of establishing an official recognised body, such as a committee, group or association, within the retail property sector.

Advertising is a strong marketing tool for brands and for companies wishing to promote their products or services to the masses. Digital screens and poster sites in high footfall locations, such as shopping centres, are extremely effective, and remain hugely popular with shoppers.

Mention a 19,000-sq ft events hall, 45 mall promotion spaces, a local population far younger than the national average and an annual footfall of 30 million, and it won't come as a surprise that thecentre:mk in Milton Keynes has reported a great deal of commercialisation success.

Photo booths have been a source of non-rental income for shopping centres for years, but since the introduction of digital photography, the options open to landlords have grown significantly.

Whether we're talking about front line staff on the shopping centre floor, or shop assistants employed by one of the tenants, customer service is vital for all staff working in a customer-facing environment.

== ? Bedminster ==

THE BENTALL CENTRE has appointed MARCUS MARCH as centre operations manager. He was previously operations and facilities manager for the Covent Garden Estate.

BCSC has awarded 29 Diplomas in Shopping Centre Management to the Class of 2007 at a ceremony held earlier this month at RIBA in London. The two-year course, run in association with the College of Estate Management at Reading University, has now seen 535 students successfully graduate since it started 20 years ago.

With the last crane finally removed from site at The Atrium in Camberley, Surrey last month, local dignitaries from across the region gathered at the scheme on April 30 to perform the official 'topping out' ceremony.

Land Securities' Princesshay in Exeter won the award for the best medium-sized new development at the ICSC European conference in Amsterdam last month.

Six shopping centres across the UK were celebrating this month after being awarded the coveted Purple Apple gong at this year's BCSC Purple Apple Marketing Awards.

Spring signals the start of a pipeline of new shopping centres due to open in 2008. One of these, Eden in High Wycombe, is an 850,000-sq ft development encompassing the existing Octagon shopping centre, and is anchored by Marks & Spencer and House of Fraser. The Multiplex development, officially opened in March 2008, is not yet fully open, with some tenants still fitting out.

A decade ago the idea of going out to dinner at your local shopping centre would have been both unappetising and an impossibility, considering most centres offered a food court set-up which closed by 6pm.


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