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LEEDS-Spanish fashion giant Zara has stepped up its UK expansion programme, taking stores in Leeds, Belfast and Nottingham. In Leeds, Yorkshire, it has taken half of the former Marks & Spencer satellite store, with Benetton set to take the other half.

Liverpool Victoria Asset Management paid Marks & Spencer £1.65 million ($2.3 million) to buy out its existing on 129/132 Briggate and 127/135 Kirkgate in Leeds. The lease was for 30 years from March 1997 with five yearly rent reviews at a rent of £637,000 ($885,000) per annum.

After splitting the store in two, unit 2 has been let to Zara, which will take possession of the store in August and open in October. The Spanish fashion retailer has taken 23,813 sf over two levels and is paying an average rent of £775,000 ($1.08 million) per annum with a six-month rent free period. And unit 1 is under offer to Benetton, which is not looking to take possession until January 2002. This unit offers 23,190 sf of retail space.

Healey & Baker advised Liverpool Victoria, and Partner Martin Acton said the lettings were probably the most important provincial retail deals of the year so far. ‘The unit was perfect for creating what the Spanish fashion retailer was looking for – a high profile store, offering a good floorspace in a prominent position in a city that has become one of the top fashion centres in the UK,’ he said.

Blair Kirkman acted for Marks & Spencer, and Harper Dennis Hobbs for Zara.

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