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Merry Hill helps new owner boost profits to £600m

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Merry Hill, one of the UK's top 20 shopping centres, is already helping boost earnings and profits at new owner Intu, with the Black Country shopping centre already seeing a £27 million hike in its value since it was bought last spring.

And Intu, which has 20 shopping centres across the UK, has also revealed its profit for last year surged to £600 million from £364 million the year before.

Bought last spring, Merry Hill has already seen a £27 million hike in its value, to £435m, as Intu prepares to spend £20m on the shopping centre over the next three years.

Meanwhile the company welcomed more than 400 million shoppers through its 20 centres in the UK and Spain last year.

Despite a 3.2 per cent drop in its like-for-like rental income in 2014, the addition of Merry Hill and its other acquisitions boosted overall rental income to £397 million, up £27 million on the year before.3.2 per cent in the year

Company chief executive David Fischel said: "Intu's improved 2014 results demonstrate we are well positioned to benefit further from rising consumer confidence and strengthening demand from retailers for quality space.

"As the UK's leading owner and manager of prime regional shopping centres, we welcome over 400 million customer visits through our centres each year and our clear focus on delivering outstanding customer experience under the intu brand is proving a powerful factor in the successful performance of our centres.

"Following excellent acquisitions both in the UK and Spain in the last few years, we also look to the organic growth opportunity from driving forward our £1.9 billion development programme."

Intu, which also owns the Trafford Centre, Lakeside at Thurrock and the Potteries shopping centre in Stoke on Trent, spent £855 million last year on buying the shopping centres at Merry Hill, Derby and Sprucefield in Northern Ireland.

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Explaining the move to investors in its latest financial report, Intu said: "The acquisition was in line with our strategy to focus on the UK's most successful destinations.

"Such assets are rarely traded, so it is important to move decisively where opportunities arise to acquire interests, particularly where our operator skills can be applied through our specialist asset and property management teams."

Intu bought the 50 per cent of Merry Hill owned by the Westfield investment group, and took over day-to-day running of the centre.

"The transaction also established a joint venture with QIC, a major global investor, at intu Merry Hill," said the company. "It strengthened Intu's position as the leading owner, developer and manager of prime UK shopping centres, filled a gap in our national coverage and extended the footprint of our nationwide consumer facing brand."

With 264 shop units over 1.67 million sq ft, Intu classes Merry Hill as one of its 'super-regional' sites.

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