THE owner of a major shopping centre in Cumbernauld has collapsed into administration, underlining the continuing challenges facing the retail sector.

Administrators were appointed to London-based Bridges Antonine LLP, owner of the Antonine Shopping Centre, following a “period of creditor pressure”.

The failure follows the collapse into administration of the owners of the East Kilbride and Bon Accord shopping centres in Aberdeen last year, and as the cost-of-living crisis continues to put pressure on the retail industry in the wake of the pandemic.

Official figures published yesterday showed annual UK consumer prices index inflation had unexpectedly risen by 10.4 per cent in February, up from 10.1% in January. The Bank of England will announce whether its Monetary Policy Committee has voted to increase interest rates at its March meeting today. The base rate currently stands at 4%.

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The Antonine Shopping Centre, which was built in 2007, spans 200,000 square feet of retail space with 42 retail units and nearly 1,100 car parking spaces. Occupants at the centre, which attracts an annual footfall of more than 3.5 million shoppers, range from anchor tenants TK Maxx, Next and TJ Hughes to specialist shops and cafes.

James Fennessey, Colin Haig, and Matthew Richards, partners of accountancy firm Azets, were appointed joint administrators of Bridges Antonine LLP yesterday. It came after an attempt to sell the property by the owner last year was unsuccessful.

A statement said the administrators had been appointed to take control and work with the management team and property agents to find a buyer for the centre. The centre, which directly employs three management staff, remains open for “business as usual”.

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Mr Fennessey, a restructuring partner with Azets, said: “The Antonine Shopping Centre is one of Scotland’s leading regional shopping centres with a range of high-quality tenants and a very strong brand name across central Scotland. The centre attracts a very high level of footfall.

“The contribution of the Antonine Shopping Centre to the economy of central Scotland is significant and the centre is as much a social hub and focal point for the region as it is a retail centre. We would encourage interested parties to contact the administrators as soon as possible as we are keen to try and find a buyer promptly.”

The administrators declined to comment when asked to elaborate on the “period of creditor pressure” highlighted in their statement, or whether rising interest rates in recent months had been a factor behind the move into administration.

A spokesman for the joint administrators noted: “Although the Antonine Shopping Centre is very well occupied, nevertheless it was suffering from challenging trading conditions and administration was the only option.”

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Alongside their appointment as administrators to the owners of the Antonine centre, Mr Fennessey, Mr Haig, and Mr Richards, in addition to Blair Milne of Azets, have been acting as administrators for the owners of the Bon Accord Shopping Centre in Aberdeen, following their appointment in August. It is understood that they are now in the process of concluding the sale of the Bon Accord, which was built in 1990 and includes two buildings on George Street and Union Street. It spans 460,000 square feet of retail space with 72 units over three floors.

The owner of East Kilbride Shopping Centre, Scotland’s largest undercover retail and leisure destination, went into administration in November.

Joint administrators Blair Nimmo and Alistair McAlinden of Interpath Advisory said at the time that they would work with stakeholders and advisors to enhance the centre and consider the appropriate time to bring it to the market. The centre, which has remained opened throughout, includes more than 150 shops plus restaurants, a cinema, and an ice rink.

Mr Nimmo said at the time: “While the challenges facing the UK retail sector are well known, the East Kilbride Shopping Centre has remained a popular shopping and leisure destination, and continues to attract well-known names including the likes of Matalan which opened its new store this month.”