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Woking’s Shopping Centre Owner Goes into Administration

Published on: 20 Apr, 2022
Updated on: 22 Apr, 2022

Peacocks Shopping Centre, Woking Google Street View

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

The future of Woking’s Peacocks shopping centre is uncertain as its owner, who has borrowed over £6 million from the council, plunges into administration.

Peacocks Centre, the private company that owns the multi-storey shopping centre, is suffering severe cashflow problems.

Its holding company is part of the Moyallen group that owns the majority of Victoria Square, Woking’s flagship development which the council has invested £700 million in. 

The Peacocks mall is now under the control of administrator Grant Thornton, appointed on Tuesday (April 19), who will try to rescue the business and look for a quick sale.

Woking Borough Council declined to say if it would want to take it over but said the centre’s shops are open for business as usual.

The council now risks losing £6.35 million that it lent to Peacocks Centre, noted in a review of the council’s finances done by EY this January.

Woking Liberal Democrats said the loan was to put in new escalators and lifts.

The council declined to comment on how much, if any, has been repaid, or if it expects to get anything back from the administrator or just have to write it off.

The Peacocks Centre is a subsidiary of Moyallen Woking Ltd, which is also unable to pay its debts and according to its last filed accounts, at the end of 2020, owed nearly £60 million more than it had in assets.

Woking Liberal Democrats leader Ann-Marie Barker said: “Moyallen Woking Ltd going into administration is a concern for the future of shopping in Woking. 

“The administrator now has control over which businesses in the Peacocks stay and which leave, and the rent they pay.”

Moyallen Properties Ltd, which shares the same directors who live in Northern Ireland, has also gone into administration. According to the council that company has no connection with Woking.

Also part of the Moyallen group is Moyallen Holdings Ltd, which along with the council part-owns Victoria Square, developed over the last five years, and Moyallen Developments Ltd, which is now managing the complex of shops and over 400 apartments.

More than half of all the council’s investments put together are in Victoria Square.

Neither of these companies has an insolvency notice in The Gazette and the council says Victoria Place, as the development was named on opening just last month, is unaffected.

The Victoria Square parent company Moyallen Holdings Ltd, which owns 52 per cent to Woking Borough Council’s 48 per cent, is nearly four months overdue filing its accounts, while according to its 2020 balance sheet, the managing company Moyallen Developments Ltd had equity.

Regarding Victoria Square, Cllr Barker added: “There are questions as to how this might affect other Moyallen companies, which are in partnership with Woking council.

Whilst this relationship is with a different Moyallen company there may well be an impact.

“The council owns Wolsey Walk shopping centre and has worked with Moyallen to bring the whole of Woking’s shopping together as Victoria Place. It is very much an intertwined relationship.”

Woking Borough Council’s chief executive Julie Fisher said: “Moyallen’s property companies, which include Peacocks Centre, and Moyallen Woking Ltd, the owner of the Primark lease in the Peacocks centre, have been put into administration. 

“Moyallen Developments Ltd, the company managing the Victoria Place development, is unaffected, as is the Victoria Square Woking Limited joint venture company with the council.

“The borough council has worked in partnership with Moyallen since its acquisition of the Peacocks shopping centre and we would like to thank it for its commitment and support towards the council’s regeneration plans for the town.

“The borough council, as the freeholder of the Peacocks site and a major stakeholder, has already spoken with the appointed administrator, Grant Thornton.  It has confirmed that the Peacocks shopping centre will continue to trade as normal, and staff are unaffected. Our ownership of the freehold is also unaffected.

“The administrator will manage all aspects of the business, including all ongoing contract negotiations. The borough council will continue to work with the administrator in the best interests of our residents.

“With the centre continuing to trade as normal, and the recent opening of Victoria Place Woking, we urge residents and visitors to carry on shopping in Woking town centre and support local retailers.” 

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