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Retail group purchases Liberty Wharf

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THE Liberty Wharf shopping centre has been bought by the Channel Islands’ largest retail group, which already runs a number of franchises in the facility.

Liberty Wharf, where Sandpiper were founding tenants

On Thursday, Sandpiper announced the purchase of the 58,000-sq-ft mall, which has in the past been St Helier’s railway station, Jersey’s tourism office and the Island’s abattoir, for an undisclosed price.

The site was converted into a shopping centre in 2010 by Harcourt Developments and bought by global asset management firm Oaktree, which sold it to Sandpiper on Wednesday.

Liberty Wharf is currently home to a number of Sandpiper outlets such as M&S Home, George, Costa Coffee and Moss Bros. Mimosa nightclub is also based there.

Sandpiper chief executive Tony O’Neill said that he was keen to increase the ‘retail mix’ at Liberty Wharf and his company’s experience as tenants would help it to improve its offering. ‘We have always viewed Liberty Wharf as the potential jewel in St Helier’s retail crown,’ he said.

‘We were founding tenants with several businesses from the early days and we believe we’re well placed to understand what actions need to be taken to improve the draw and attractiveness of the centre and increase footfall for all Liberty Wharf’s tenants.’

He added: ‘All existing leases will remain in place and we will be looking to improve the tenant mix over time.

‘We also want to introduce more activities and social events into the centre and will be looking to interact with groups, clubs and bodies to create some fun and theatre.’

Mr O’Neill said that the purchase was a ‘significant vote of confidence’ in Jersey retail but added that the recent introduction of the ‘retail tax’ on large companies in Jersey had stifled further investment and job creation by Sandpiper.

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‘Had we known Jersey’s Treasury Minister was intending to introduce a 20 per cent retail tax, it is unlikely we would have completed the purchase [of Liberty Wharf] were we not already committed,’ he said.

‘As the largest retail employer in the Island, we were astonished that no consultations have ever taken place with our company prior to the introduction of this tax.

‘Hence we would question whether States Members were aware of all the facts when they voted to introduce this economically damaging tax, particularly after being told that major retailers had been consulted. As a result of this tax, we have cancelled two capital projects and will only proceed with one other project, which has been renegotiated, resulting in less investment into the Island and less job creation.’

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
author

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