The former boss of Birmingham’s Bullring is taking the helm of the £200 million New Square development in West Bromwich.
Steve Burr, aged 49, has been appointed as the centre manager for the 473,000 sq ft shopping and leisure scheme.
And the Albion fan, who grew up in Great Barr, said he hopes the centre – which will have scores of shops including a Tesco, Primark, cinema and restaurants – will become a Premier League destination.
He said: “New Square is huge news for West Bromwich and Sandwell.
“There’s such a loyal base of customers in the area and they deserve to have a new retail and leisure development.
“We are looking to create a valuable evening economy and family-orientated retail and leisure development, with the new cinema and restaurants, and to link in with other venues such as The Public and realise their potential.”
He said the development, next to the Expressway, will work ‘exceedingly well’ with other regeneration projects taking place in the area, such as that at Providence Place, and on the High Street at the former Sandwell College site. He said: “I think it will just regenerate the whole of West Bromwich town centre and put it back on the map.
“We currently export shoppers to places like Birmingham, and now we want to import them. We are looking to bring more people in and show off the town.
“As we have a Premier League football club, it’s only proper that we have a Premier League shopping destination.”
He also praised the new bus station and Metro network, which he hopes will bring shoppers in from Birmingham, and Sandwell College, which he says will provide the shopping centre with the relevant skills.
Jonathan Simpson, regional corporate affairs manager for Tesco, said: “Steve has a great deal of experience managing shopping centres across Europe and his appointment marks an exciting time for New Square. We have extended a warm welcome to Steve and are looking forward to working with him as we prepare for our opening later this summer.”
Mr Burr, who now lives in Kingsbury with his wife and son, has more than 30 years of retail experience, including four-and-a-half years at the Bullring in Birmingham where he helped to oversee the opening of the newly-regenerated city centre in 2003. He joins New Square from Australian investment managers APN, for whom he looked after shopping centres across Europe.
He added: “The Bullring was an older scheme that was iconic in its time, but had ceased to meet the need of the Birmingham public, which is a similar situation to West Bromwich town centre.
“This will bring more people back to West Bromwich and give them more pride in the town centre, which is what it deserves.”
The New Square development will be anchored by a Tesco Extra store, and will also include Primark, Next, Outfit and JD Sports, with Nandos, Prezzo, Costa Coffee and Harvester.
The first phase of New Square will launch in June with the Tesco store, Odeon Cinema, Next, Bank and the restaurant units due to open.
The rest of the retailers will open later in the year. The whole development is expected to create around 1,200 jobs, and recruitment is well underway for the development. Tesco has already completed the first phase of recruitment. It saw 654 people attend open days, and 491 people attend interviews for the first 100 positions at the supermarket.
The first phase of recruitment was open to those referred by Jobcentre Plus and Think Local. Phase two has now started. Primark has also started recruiting for posts and is advertising managerial positions at the town centre store with salaries ranging from £21,865 up to £34,160.
Meanwhile, investment group Hammerson has increased its holding in the Bullring shopping centre. It has acquired an additional 16.7 per cent stake, taking its total share to 50 per cent.