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NI shopping centre in receivership three years after new owner pledged to revitalise it



The Flagship Centre in Bangor had already been vacant for two years when it was bought by Brookland Property in Belfast, led by Rick McLarnon.

Speaking at the time of the purchase in August 2021, Mr McLarnon said the location had been “crying out for regeneration investment”.

But earlier this month, real estate management company Standard & General appointed administrative receivers from RPG Recovery to Flagship Bangor Ltd, the company behind the centre.

RPG Recovery, which is based in Manchester, has been asked for comment. The receivership process means it will now have control of the asset.

Bangor By The Sea, which monitors development in the seaside town, said it was “deeply saddened” by the appointment of administrative receivers.

It praised Mr McLarnon for his efforts to secure the centre’s future. “Having met the current owner several times, I know that this situation did not arise from a lack of effort. If drive, energy, enthusiasm, and passion were all it took to succeed, the Flagship would be thriving by now.

“However, massive undertakings like this always require a bit of luck, favourable circumstances, and significant investment from others.

“Regardless of the reasons… please be kind and respectful to the owner who invested so much personal effort and resources to advance Bangor.”

Following his purchase of the 157,000sq ft centre and its 430 space car park, Mr McLarnon said: “As someone who was brought up in Bangor, I remember the Flagship Centre as a vibrant part of the town centre and it is our plan that with the right investment and vision, that that economic and social contribution to Bangor will return.”

Brookland Property has been asked for comment.

General views of the Flagship Centre in Bangor

The Flagship Centre had been a thriving retail centre during the 1990s, with Dunnes its main tenant. It was also known for its successful food court.

But as far back as 2016, it was only partly occupied, with just eight tenants within a total of 30 units.

In financial statements for the year to April 2023, filed in February, Flagship Bangor reported net liabilities of £160,255.

The centre was formerly owned by Flagship Centre Ltd, a company controlled by Michael Herbert. The centre was bought by Northhold Group in England in 2016.

Last month, Mr Herbert and his wife Lesley promised the “biggest investment in Bangor for a generation” after snapping up Bangor’s Bloomfield Shopping Centre and Retail Park for around £22m.

They pledged to add 300 new jobs to the town in the process of doubling the size of their new acquisition, including the addition of a cinema and even residential property.

Commercial property agents Osborne King said the purchase by Herbert Property Group of Bloomfield had taken place recently, following its deal to buy Forestside in south Belfast last year.​

Both shopping centres have now been rebranded Lesley Forestside and Lesley Bloomfield.

News Catch Up: Tuesday 28th May 2024

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