Kerching! Saddlers Centre’s £500k profit brings boost for Walsall Council
Walsall's Saddlers Centre has made a profit of more than half a million pounds since controversially being bought by the borough council, bosses have revealed.
Council leader Sean Coughlan said the figure justified the authority's decision to buy the shopping centre last year, over which it received significant criticism.
Serious questions were asked about whether spending £13 million on the centre was an appropriate use of taxpayers' money but the leader says money made can now be invested back into services.
The sale, and subsequent revelation the Saddlers had made a £2.8 million loss in 2015/16, caused a storm at the council as opposition members demanded answers.
Councillor Coughlan said: "The rationale behind our purchase of the centre was to benefit from the rental income on the units within the centre, but also to give ourselves a strong foothold in regenerating the retail offer in the town centre. I’m really pleased to confirm that we have been successful on both fronts.
“People will naturally be interested in the money side of things of course and I hope they’ll be reassured that, in just the first seven months of our ownership of the site, the forecasted revenue profit is £506,000, net of interest costs.
"This is the equivalent to half a per cent on the council tax. We can provide some really valued local services with that kind of money, which is the equivalent of around 20 street cleansing staff, filling approximately 10,000 potholes or waste collection for 15,000 households.”
The council said the Saddlers 'continues to outperform national shopping centre performance'.
A total of 611,224 and 818,881 shoppers visited in November and December respectively, which was an increase of 0.4 per cent on 2016.
The cash-strapped authority needs to save £86m by 2020 and has shut nine libraries and slashed hundreds of jobs in the borough in an attempt to make savings.