Successfully acting on the £41.5m acquisition of Exeter's Guildhall Shopping Centre


Ashfords LLP acted for Exeter City Council (the ‘Council’) in the acquisition of the Guildhall Shopping Centre. 
The transaction was one of the most high profile and publicised deals in the region in 2022 due to the popularity of the asset and the nature of the purchaser. The Guildhall Shopping Centre is one of the key retail and dining destinations in the Exeter area, sitting in the heart of the city. The Council acquiring the asset and securing its future was a significant transaction signalling the Council's commitment to invest in the city centre during uncertain times and deliver its vision for the future.

Exeter Guildhall

The complexities of the transaction included: 

  1. the tight timeframes imposed by the seller due to the competitive bidding process;
  2. the sheer amount of information to review and digest (the Guildhall Shopping Centre has over 60 occupiers);
  3. part of the site included residential elements within what is primarily a commercial asset; and 
  4. the neighbouring development of the Harlequins Shopping Centre.

Our approach and the outcome

The Council benefitted from Ashfords' depth of experience. Lawyers from Ashfords’ employment, tax, commercial, intellectual property, planning, public sector, housing and property litigation teams were all called upon to advise on aspects and give the Council a clear risk profile. Issues included social media accounts, domain names, TUPE, management issues, service contracts, residential tenancies, company voluntary arrangements and break notices. Ashfords were also required to swiftly familiarise themselves and advise on new occupier and estate management issues as they arose during the due diligence process.

As a result, the acquisition was completed successfully within a tight timeframe. Ashfords now support the Council with the ongoing asset management of the Centre.

For more information, please contact Simon Bailey.

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