BRAEHEAD owner Intu Properties has said it believes the UK retail environment is still continuing to improve.

The company, which also owns the likes of the Trafford Centre in Manchester, the Lakeside in Essex and Gateshead's Metrocentre. said occupancy across its portfolio was steady at 95 per cent in the three months to March 31.

David Fischel, chief executive, said: "The strong momentum of our development projects continues, with signs of increased retailer interest as the UK retail environment continues to improve, particularly for space in those centres where investment and improvement projects are underway or imminent."

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Intu did not give any update on the proposed £200 million extension at Braehead, between the existing Xscape facility and the shopping centre, which would include a department store plus additional shops and leisure facilities.

It said there were 50 new long-term leases signed in the quarter which was said to represent £8.1m of new rental income.

It highlighted the opening of the Kuoni holiday store in Braehead as one of the significant deals it struck.

Intu said the overall terms across all leases were in aggregate five per cent greater than previous passing rent but in line with valuations.

Footfall was reported to be one per cent ahead of the same period of 2013.

Investment intentions also appear to be picking up and Intu said: "There appears to be good investment demand, particularly from overseas investors who are looking for better quality shopping centres."