THE owner of the Silverburn shopping centre has said it is seeing growing signs of recovery in the UK retail market.

Hammerson, which also has the Bullring in Birmingham, Union Square in Aberdeen and London's Brent Cross in its portfolio, is now signing leases for shops at 8% higher than the estimated rental value (ERV) of units.

Footfall between January and April 22 is 0.6% up with sales running 0.5% ahead and occupancy steady at 96.6%

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Performance in Hammerson's French portfolio was more subdued with footfall down 3% although leases were signed at 1% above ERV.

In total the company agreed 80 new leases in the period which will bring in around £5 million annually.

David Atkins, chief executive, said: "Economic recovery, particularly in the UK, is generating confidence in our consumer markets.

"We have seen improving leasing demand over the period, and have struck deals at good levels in both the UK and France.

"In addition the ongoing strength of investment demand in both our territories is providing support for valuations."

Hammerson said a new shopping centre in the port area of Marseille will open next month with new retailers to the French city including fashion brand Ted Baker and Michael Kors.

In the UK Sir Robert McAlpine has been selected as the contractor for the £150m Victoria Gate mall in Leeds with the site, which will house the city's first John Lewis store, expected to open towards the end of 2016.