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Hammerson boss quits weeks after group loses £400m deal

The shopping centre owner had agreed to sell seven sites to private equity giant Orion.

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Shops have shut down in many of Hammerson’s sites. (Jacob King/PA)

Shops have shut down in many of Hammerson’s sites. (Jacob King/PA)

Shops have shut down in many of Hammerson’s sites. (Jacob King/PA)

The boss of shopping centre owner Hammerson has announced plans to step down weeks after a £400 million deal to sell several sites fell through.

David Atkins will hand over his post as chief executive in spring next year, at the latest, the company announced on Wednesday.

He will have been in the job for almost 12 years, leading the owners of the Bullring in Birmingham and Bicester Village in Oxfordshire.

The company said Mr Atkins decided to step down “with the agreement of the board.”

Now is the right time to search for a new chief executive, a person who can not only lead the business as we emerge from this period, but also into its next chapterDavid Atkins

His decision comes three weeks after the company lost a major deal with a private equity giant which would have made a much-needed £400 million.

Orion European Real Estate decided it would rather abandon the deal, and pay the £21 million that would cost, than push ahead in uncertain times.

It would have seen Orion take over seven retail parks, including in Middlesbrough, Falkirk, Rugby and St Helens.

Hammerson has been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis.

In March it revealed that only 37% of the rent it was expecting for the first quarter of the year had been paid on time.

Mr Atkins said: “It has been a privilege to have led Hammerson for over 10 years and I am proud of the many achievements and the incredible colleagues I have worked with.

“The current environment, exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19, is undoubtedly the most challenging we have faced as a business.

“I feel now is the right time to search for a new chief executive, a person who can not only lead the business as we emerge from this period, but also into its next chapter.”

Chairman David Tyler said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank David for his enormous commitment in leading Hammerson during the past decade.

“He has led the company with ambition, passion and integrity, creating a culture that will live far beyond his time.

“He has developed Hammerson significantly through the growth of our premium outlets business, the geographical diversification of our portfolio, our market leading sustainability framework and the establishment of our City Quarters strategy.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with him until a successor is appointed.”

PA Media