St George's Shopping Centre in Preston is sold for undisclosed sum

Preston's busiest shopping centre has been bought by a Lancashire property company with a pledge to inject new life into it.

By Brian Ellis
Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 4:17 pm

St George's, which includes Marks and Spencer, River Island, H&M and Matalan, went into administration earlier this year under its former owners IRAF UK Dragon Ltd.

The retail arm of the growing Adhan Group, based in Blackburn and run by successful businessman Salim Patel, has purchased the centre for an undisclosed sum and pledged to invest "significantly" in it.

Today's announcement has been welcomed by Preston BID, the city's Business Development District as "really good news."

St George's has been sold for an undisclosed sum.

BID manager Mark Whittle said: "St George’s is a cornerstone of Preston’s retail and leisure offer. It is really good news that The Adhan Group have realised the centre’s long term potential, and have shown their commitment to securing and developing the centre’s offer.

"We look forward to building on our strong working relationship with the centre’s management team, and supporting the new owners to ensure St George’s remains a popular place to visit in Preston."

St George's, which has been a popular shopping venue in he heart of Preston since 1966, was put into administration in February by its private equity firm owners.

IRAF UK Dragon bought it in 2015 for £73m. It was previously sold for £87m in 2010.

The new owners are promising 'substantial' investment.

In a statement issued today, The Adhan Group said it would be investing significantly in the 270,000 sq ft centre "to attract more new tenants and ensure existing retailers continue to trade well as they return post-Covid.

"The new owner is already in negotiations with several companies which have expressed an interest to expand or relocate to the centre within the next few months.

Commenting on the purchase, CEO Mr Patel said: “Acquiring St George’s is a significant milestone in the expansion of the portfolio of our retail arm.

"It is widely recognised as the dominant and premier shopping destination in the city and we are extremely proud to have purchased this landmark asset and intend to ensure it has a bright future, remaining central to the city’s strong retail offering.

“We identified it as an important strategic acquisition earlier in the year. It’s a very strong retail offering in a city which is undergoing a significant programme of re-development and investment with the city council investing heavily in the Harris Quarter, Stoneygate and Friargate.

"We envisage the centre cementing its position in the heart of Preston for many years to come.”

Mr Patel added: “As a national property company which has its roots firmly in Lancashire, we are proud to have risen to the challenge and been able to acquire the centre for future generations to enjoy.

"The purchase was exchanged in just 48 hours which demonstrates our commitment to bringing it into our portfolio.”

Alongside its retail arm, the Adhan Group also has an industrial portfolio of over 10 million sq ft of property throughout England and Wales.

Founded by Salim Patel and family in 2003 it has since grown to become one of the largest, privately owned, commercial property companies.

Adhan Group’s retail arm, which is based on Hardman Square in Spinningfields, was established in 2020 to further expand the company through the purchase of shopping centres, retail parks and sizeable retail assets with a target of creating an asset value of £1 billion by 2023.