CONCERNS have been expressed over the future of a Barnsley shopping centre - which has served customers for 30 years - due to an exodus of big-name retailers moving to the nearby Glass Works regeneration.
Receivers Avison Young have been appointed at the Alhambra Centre, which opened in August 1991 - formerly known as The Mall - on Cheapside in the heart of Barnsley to find a new buyer.
The purpose-built scheme has 41 retail units arranged around a central atrium, with anchor stores including Wilko, Primark and Iceland, as well as a 496-space car park.
However, after the departure of long-opened retailers including TX Maxx and Next - both of which have moved to Barnsley Council’s £200m Glass Works scheme a stone’s throw away - the 182,000sq ft venue is now for sale.
Receivership is a legal process whereby a receiver is appointed by a holder such as a bank or other lender.
Bosses overseeing that process told shoppers there will be no immediate impact on current tenants.
Andrew Foster, from Avison Young, said: “The appointment will have no operational impact on the tenants or shoppers, and the centre will continue to trade as normal.
“Our immediate priority is to make sure the centre has a successful Christmas period.
“We will be exploring how we can enhance the centre in the medium term, including strengthening links with the neighbouring Glass Works scheme to continue the revitalisation of the town centre.
“Ultimately, we will be looking to sell the property to a new owner with a view to making a lasting mark on the town and its surrounding communities.
“This is a prime site in the heart of the Barnsley retail district - the opportunities that this site presents are immense and would further enhance the rejuvenation of the town.”
It was owned and operated by The Mall Company from its opening up to its sale to F and C Reit in September 2011, which completed the Alhambra’s purchase alongside another retail complex in Middlesbrough in a £108m deal.
F and C Reit, now known as BMO Real Estate Partners, had announced an intention to create a multiplex cinema on the Alhambra’s rooftop in 2017 but shelved the bid, blaming the council for pressing ahead with a rival plan.
Cineworld signing up to the Glass Works, Alhambra bosses said, made the scheme ‘unviable’, but financial pressures owing to the Covid-19 pandemic have had a knock-on impact, which led the firm to fall into receivership.
The Chronicle understands council bosses are in discussions with the Alhambra’s owners to plot a recovery path - as it is ‘very much’ a part of the wider town centre’s regeneration.
Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said: “It’s obviously very disappointing news to see that the Alhambra Centre has gone into receivership, but it’s good news that the centre is not closing and will keep trading.
“Over the next couple of months, the town centre will be a hive of activity with Barnsley Bright Nights and people enjoying the festive period.
“Footfall in the town centre is high, and we’re working with businesses, including the Alhambra Centre, to attract as many people as possible with the retail and leisure offer.”
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis added: “While it is naturally concerning to see that the Alhambra Centre has gone into receivership, I am confident that - under the direction of Avison Young and with the right support from Barnsley Council - the Alhambra has a prosperous future at the heart of our town centre, alongside the new Glass Works development.
“I am stood by, both as the local MP and as the South Yorkshire Mayor, to support the Alhambra and the council where I can.”