Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 13:03 UK

More shops needed for new centre

St David's 2
St David's 2 will be the city's largest shopping centre

Nearly half of the retail space in a £675m new shopping centre is still to be let five months before it opens.

Developers have announced St David's 2 in Cardiff will open on 22 October but 43% of its floor space has not been confirmed as filled.

Neil Carron, project director of Land Securities, said negotiations with other retailers were being finalised and he was "confident" in its success.

Flagship store John Lewis is among the 29 retailers which have been announced.

It is one of 12 retailers setting up their first store in Wales.

Others include Reiss, Crabtree & Evelyn, All Saints, Kurt Geiger and TM Lewin. St David's 2 is also launching the nation's first Jamie's Italian restaurant.

Mr Carron said: "Take up of further floor space will increase over the coming months - most retailers are looking beyond the current economic climate, they know the strength of Cardiff as a shopping destination.

Developers announce the date of when a new 675m shopping complex is planned to open to the public.

"While there will be more shops still to come when we open we're confident we will have a good retail environment so retailers will be able to trade properly from day one."

The four-storey John Lewis building, covering 280,000 sq ft in total, is the first in Wales and the largest branch outside London. It will open on 24 September.

Features of the new store include an espresso bar and a 293-seat eating area on the third floor.

Liz Mihell, managing director of John Lewis Cardiff, said the store is recruiting 700 employees of which the majority will come from the local area.

"I've been thrilled with the quality of applications so far," she added.


Robert Clark, analyst and partner at the Retail Knowledge Bank, said there was an oversupply of retail space in the current economic climate.

John Lewis store in construction
The first John Lewis store in Wales is opening on 24 September

He said that while retail location costs in the UK have been very high in recent years landlords and agents are now having to compete to increase the number of incentives they offer retailers to set up shop.

Incentives can include rent-free periods and turnover related rents, he said, "nothing looks worse than empty shop fronts in a new centre".

The St David's Partnership has not disclosed any of its letting terms.

Mr Carron said: "We've made the right deals by operating in the current market and agreeing terms with retailers accordingly.

Future investment

Nick Carter, director at Cardiff-based property advisor Calan Retail, said that at the moment retail rents are maintaining their normal level, but "few deals are happening".

"In the past three months rent-free terms used to be a typical offer for retailers but now this can be for up to two years," he said.

Richard Dodd, spokesman for the British Retail Consortium, said the current economic climate should not deter investment in new schemes.

"These sort of retail developments are for the long term so it's vital to go on investing in much-needed facilities like shopping centres," he said.

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