Shopping centre values have taken a tumble as the investment market struggles to come to terms with the credit crunch in the international financial markets. The sector's leading players have been forced to mark down their assets while investment market turnover has slowed almost to a halt.

Capital & Regional, manager of the Mall, Junction and X-Leisure retail property funds, has announced that its chief executive Martin Barber is to step down in August 2009 when he reaches the age of 65.

Bride Hall and Warner Estate have signed their final tranche of pre-lets to coincide with the opening of the 200,000-sq ft Bouverie Place shopping centre in Folkestone. Body Shop, Asda Café, Sports Direct and Poundland have all signed up at the new £30m scheme, which opened on 26 November.

CALA Properties has lodged a planning application with North Lanarkshire Council for the refurbishment of the Brandon shopping centre in Motherwell.

Henderson has signed up five new tenants at its St James shopping centre in Edinburgh as the landlord reports record footfall up by more than eight per cent between January and October 2007 compared to last year.

Daventry District Council has signed a development agreement with Henry Boot Developments for the phased development of two prominent sites in Daventry town centre. Henry Boot will now enter into detailed negotiations with West Northamptonshire Development Corporation prior to the submission of a planning application.

The Liberty, Romford

The Liberty Centre in Romford has secured three new tenants who have opened in time to benefit from the peak Christmas shopping period.

The largest urban regeneration project currently under way in Europe, Liverpool One, is due to open in May, transforming with it the heart of the city centre.

Two of the UK's leading shopping centre owners - Land Securities and Lend Lease - have signed new management contracts, reflecting the search for innovation and the wider trend towards consolidation in the facilities management business.

Coffee Republic has re-invented itself in the face of a growing market of coffee shops in the UK - with new branding and a new deli concept.

Land Securities' Princesshay was the worthy winner of the supreme award at this year's BCSC Golds. Neil Varnham, chairman of the awards jury, rightly pointed out that the scheme ticks all the boxes of the government's urban agenda: it incorporates residential and leisure alongside the retail and it has opened up new public spaces in the heart of a historic city.

I was interested to read your Viewpoint in the November edition of Shopping Centre in the wake of our record-setting BCSC Conference & Showcase. It raised important points regarding how BCSC - or indeed anyone organising a major industry conference and exhibition - can meet the dual-track requirements for delegates: the need to debate new thinking and the imperative to do business.

Atomic Kitten star Natasha Hamilton and fiancé Riad Erraji launched Hamilton's, their new coffee shop and delicatessen in Liverpool's trendy Metquarter last month. This intriguing combination of a café and bar is the first outlet of this fledgling brand from the couple, who also opened 'H', a late-night glitzy bar and private members' club, in Victoria Street, Liverpool, on the same day.

South Wales is currently a hotbed of activity for the retail property sector, with major regeneration and development both planned and ongoing in Cardiff and Newport.

Burton-on-Trent is set for major change in the next two decades with plans by the council to regenerate the town centre.

New hi-tech traffic lights at Braehead automatically adjust the length of time they stay at green depending on how many cars are waiting to go through a junction.

An ambitious £30m reinforced concrete project to build Europe's biggest car park will soon feature as part of the £500m Cabot Circus development in Bristol, which is due to open in autumn 2008.

Europe's largest full-service parking contractor APCOA has acquired all of the CPS businesses across Europe from Central Parking Corporation, itself the largest parking firm in the USA. The biggest impact of the acquisition will be felt in the UK, where APCOA's operations will be nearly doubled in size. Meanwhile, the number of countries in which APCOA operates will rise by two, with the addition of Ireland and Spain.

Shoppers who abuse priority parking spaces at Asda supermarkets are to be fined £60. The retailer is piloting the scheme at seven stores in Merseyside but is planning to roll it out across the country.

Vinci Park is in discussions with the British Parking Association (BPA) about how best to promote the benefits of Park Mark to consumers.

Mention the Royal British Legion, and Remembrance Day and the fund-raising work the charity does for the serving and ex-service community will probably be the first thing that will spring to mind.

With a number of shopping centres having opened their doors this autumn, an array of new car parks have also been built to cope with the increase in shoppers to these towns and cities.

Proposals to introduce the first phase of a congestion charging system in Manchester by 2012, which would make it the second city in the UK after London to impose a charge on drivers for entering specific zones, have been met with much apprehension.

The flooring within a shopping centre may be laid down well after the main construction of the mall has gone up and the roof put on, but owners should be thinking about it much further in advance, according to Gary Williams of stone specialists Szerelmey.

Winner of the Young Achiever SCEPTRE Award, sponsored by Insitu Services, was Carly North from Lakeside, Thurrock.

== ? Antrim ==

Sheffield's Meadowhall Centre was the proud winner of the new SCEPTRE Award for Environmental Management, sponsored by Envirowise. The centre received the award for its innovative and environmentally-friendly handling of shopfit waste.

The SCEPTRE Award for Short Term Merchant of the Year, sponsored by Retail Profile Europe, this year went to The Red Image.

GARETH WILLIAMS and LIZ REEVES have recently joined CLUTTONS' planning and regeneration team. Williams, who previously worked at White Young Green Planning and Portsmouth City Council, joins the team in Romsey as an associate. Reeves has been appointed graduate planner, having recently completed her studies at University College London.

According to the latest retail sales monitor from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, UK retail sales rose 1.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis in November, compared with the previous November when sales were up only 0.5 per cent. November's growth is just above October's 1.0 per cent but well below the average for both 2006 and 2007 to date.

The expected flood to the high street this week has been more of a washout for retailers, as the year-on-year fall in shopper numbers continue to plummet, according to Experian's FootFall division. Although showing a week-on-week increase of 5.6 per cent, the FootFall index for the week commencing 26 November recorded a dismal decrease of 3.5 per cent on the same spending period last year, as Christmas shopping figures continue to trail those of 2006.

Princesshay, Land Securities' new shopping centre in Exeter has won the BCSC's Supreme Gold award for 2007. A delighted Peter Cleary, Land Secs' head of retail development, accepted the award at the annual BCSC dinner at London's Grosvenor House.

Liverpool's credentials as one of the UK's fashion capitals were underlined when Warner Estate hosted a fashion show featuring the work of Vivienne Westwood, Britain's most famous designer, at its Cavern Walks Boutique Emporium in the city centre.

Coopers Square in Burton-on-Trent is the first shopping centre to have its own wood. The dedicated area, named as the Coopers Square Wood, is near the Conkers Visitor Centre in Moira, Derbyshire.

A new glazed bridge has been installed in an overnight operation to cross Barton Dock Road in Trafford, connecting The Trafford Centre to its new Barton Square development.

As you read this, the Christmas frenzy will be reaching a climax but, increasingly, thoughts will be turning to dealing with the challenge of 2008. According to Deloitte, 85 per cent of UK retailers believe that the economy in 2008 will deteriorate or stay the same.Pressure on service charges will be severe, given the significant rent hikes experienced by many tenants in 2007.

As one of the UK's most well-known shopping centre developers with more than 16 years' experience in the property industry and a portfolio that has a total end value in excess of £2.5bn, Modus is going from strength to strength.

While wayfinding signs are probably the most familiar forms of signage in shopping centres, the industry seems to be evolving towards digital technology and other media. Indeed while wayfinding is, and always will be, vital to shoppers, communicating the right messages to the consumer, such as promoting in-store offers or upcoming events, is also becoming increasingly important.


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