Coppergate owners insolvent six months ago
Big name tenant set to leave
Centre ‘continuing to trade as usual’
One of York’s main shopping centres is being run by administrators after its owner became insolvent, YorkMix can reveal.
Coppergate Shopping Centre has been in the hands of the business recovery team at Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) for fully six months – since June 30, 2014.
The Coppergate Centre was opened in 1984
It covers 200,000 sq ft and big name tenants include Fenwicks, Boots, Top Shop and the Jorvik Viking Centre
In 2008 the centre and adjoining properties in Piccadilly were sold to the American-owned company LaSalle Investment Management
That was the date when its owner, LaSalle UK Ventures Property 8 S.A.R.L., went into administration, owing creditors £45 million.
We can also reveal that one of the big-name tenants of the Coppergate Centre is leaving next month.
The Starbucks franchise in the centre will close its doors on February 10, 2015 after reportedly finding the business was not viable.
A spokesperson for the Coppergate Centre told YorkMix that it has continued to trade as normal since the owner went into administration.
The spokesperson said:
The centre is continuing to trade as usual and shortly following the appointment of administrators a new centre manager, Sue Anderson-Brown, was appointed.
Decision kept under wraps
However, the fact that the centre’s owner was insolvent has been kept under wraps.
When it was announced that Mrs Anderson-Brown was the new Coppergate Centre manager, media reports made no mention of the owners going into administration.
This is how the York Press reported the news on Tuesday, September 4, 2014:
Her appointment follows the departure of previous manager Deb O’Donnell who left to take the centre manager position at the new £90 million Vangarde Shopping Park, and the arrival of new owners Cogent with management agent Capita, which took on the shopping centre from LaSalle.
Coppergate’s former owners
The ungainly named LaSalle UK Ventures Property 8 S.A.R.L., described by Companies House as a “property ownership, leasing and management” company, is registered in Luxembourg.
It is an investment vehicle created to buy the Coppergate Centre by LaSalle Investment Management.
Previous Coppergate Centre owners Land Securities sold the site to LaSalle in spring 2008, after failing to get permission to develop the Castle-Piccadilly site.
The official documentation of the sale described the new owners as
It paid £36.9 million for the Coppergate Centre on March 28, 2008.
On the same date, another LaSalle subsidiary – Lasalle UK Ventures Property 10 S.A.R.L. – paid £4.59 million for the Ryedale Building, 60 Piccadilly, York, better known as Ryedale House. That subsidiary is also in administration.
Documents from the administrators reveal that the company which owned the Coppergate Centre owed £45 million to creditors.
Its biggest creditor was Nationwide Building Society, which loaned it the money to buy Coppergate – it is owed £26 million.
Among the other companies owed money are York firms Deepclean and John Wright Electrical Services.
Starbucks out, Primark in
Staff at Starbucks, which occupies unit 16 of the Coppergate Centre, were told last week that the branch will close in February, as it was not financially viable.
Here’s what the Coppergate Centre spokesperson told YorkMix:
Meanwhile clothing chain Primark is still due to take over the former Marks & Spencer store on Coppergate, vacated when M&S moved to the Vangarde Shopping Park at Monks Cross.
To facilitate Primark’s Coppergate move, York council agreed plans to extend the M&S building by 10,500 sq ft.
This is part of a two-store strategy, which would see Primark also take over M&S’s unit at Monks Cross.
A letter from Eric Hall of TDH Estates, the agent for Monks Cross Shopping, revealed that the Coppergate move had been delayed by the shopping centre’s owners going into administration.
On September 12, 2014, he wrote in a letter to the council:
But he added that the move was still due to go ahead:
Fears over city centre retailing
The fact that the company set up by Lasalle Investment Management to buy and run Coppergate Shopping Centre became insolvent will reignite the debate about city centre retailing versus out-of-town development.
LaSalle scaled back £200 million plans to redevelop Castle-Piccadilly after York council gave the go-ahead for the Vangarde Shopping Park at Monks Cross, now home to John Lewis – and tied to the development of York Community Stadium.
The developers said then:
That sentiment was echoed in a Retail Study Update for the council by consultants WYG. In September 2014, they wrote:
More recently the York Press revealed the contents of a council-commissioned report which said that
We asked City of York Council about the Coppergate Centre situation. Here are our questions and the council’s answers.
Is the council helping the administrators to find a new owner for the Coppergate Centre, and if so, how?
Has the insolvency of LaSalle had any financial implications for the council, considering it owned the Ryedale Building & more too?
Does this situation confirm that city centre retailing is losing out to out of town shopping?
Does the fall of LaSalle have implications for the redevelopment of Castle-Piccadilly?
The council was recently selected to join the One Public Estate programme, led by the Cabinet Office and the Government Property Unit, which provides support for local authorities to work jointly with all branches of central government to make the most of all our assets for the creation of jobs and housing. We are currently therefore in discussion with other agencies regarding the comprehensive redevelopment of this important gateway to the city.
YorkMix has also contacted the administrators about their plans for the site, and we are waiting to hear back.