THE Peacocks shopping centre in Woking town centre has been bought out of administration by the Arora Group, a Hounslow-based private company with interests in property, construction and hotels.

Global financial giant Grant Thornton was appointed administrator last April when four Moyallen companies were placed in administration, including Moyallen Woking Limited and Peacocks Centre.

Moyallen originally acquired the centre in 2008 for £116million.

The council is the freeholder of the Peacocks Centre site, set on almost nine acres, and that remains the case after the sale. The council played no part in the sale.

Last summer, Grant Thornton appointed upmarket estate agents Savills to market the Peacocks, which comprises 542,528 sq ft with 80 units. 

“The centre also comprises a 137,000 sq ft former Debenhams store, and is adjacent to the recently completed Victoria Place development that includes about 400 residential units, a 189-bedroom Hilton hotel and a 50,000 sq ft M&S,” noted the Savills details.

Mark Garmon-Jones, the head of shopping centre investment and repurposing at Savills, said at the time: “The Peacocks Centre provides an opportunity to acquire a quality scheme, recently refurbished, in an affluent South East town with significant asset management potential to increase the income to circa £4.5m.”

Savills invited offers in excess of £25 million, although the selling price has not been revealed.

Cllr Ann-Marie Barker, the Liberal Democrat leader of Woking Borough Council, said: “For more than a decade, Woking Borough Council has invested significantly in transforming the town centre into a welcoming, prosperous and vibrant shopping destination. 

“The Peacocks is integral to our vision of a modern Woking town centre. As the freeholder of the site, and a major stakeholder in the town centre, I welcome the investment Arora has made in Woking and the certainty it brings to retailers, their employees and visitors to the town. 

“We look forward to a dynamic and productive partnership with Arora over many years to come.”  

Sanjay Arora, chief operating officer and head of property for the Arora Group, added: “We continue our expansion into the retail sector and look forward to working closely with Woking Borough Council to make this centre a true success again, neighboured by their incredible Victoria Place development.”

Toby Ogilvie Smals, retail investment director at Savills London, said: “It was encouraging to see significant interest in the asset, despite the current headwinds facing the UK investment market.”

Although another part of Moyallen is a significant partner in Victoria Square, Cllr Barker added: “A different arm of Moyallen is in development. That is the partner in Victoria Square and this part of the business is not in administration.”

Cllr Barker continued: “Peacocks having a new owner is a positive for the town.

“Although it is has been business as usual under the administrators we would hope to see some progress under new owners.

“Getting the Debenhams site back into use will be really beneficial to Woking.”

What, however, the sale has not clarified is the fate of a £6 million loan by the council to a subsidiary of Moyallen Woking Limited to make improvements, including new escalators and lifts, in the Peacocks.

Although the matter was widely flagged at the time of administration by the Liberal Democrats, councillors were unable to confirm whether the loan would be repaid.