A council believes intu Watford has a "sound long-term future" despite the shopping centre giants entering administration.

Watford Borough Council, which owns the freehold of the intu Watford site, says it is in a "really good position" as any "changes to the long leaseholder requires our consent".

Intu confirmed earlier today that it has applied to appoint administrators from KPMG, after warning that it was on the verge of collapse.

However, the company said its shopping centres will continue to trade for the time being despite its insolvency.

Following the news, Watford Borough Council said it hopes KPMG will find a buyer because of "Watford’s strong local economy and regional pull across Hertfordshire and beyond".

Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: "Whilst the news today is clearly disappointing, the intu centre in Watford is known as an outstanding shopping and leisure destination that helps attract thousands of people to the town each year.

"The recent improvements, including the stunning new extension with a cinema and bowling alley, means the centre has a strong mix of tenants and lots to offer visitors.

"We believe it has a sound long-term future and that the administrators, KPMG, will find a buyer because of Watford’s strong local economy and regional pull across Hertfordshire and beyond."


He continued: "The council owns the freehold of intu Watford, including the new extension.

"This puts us in a really good position as any changes to the long leaseholder requires our consent. This means we can help shape future arrangements and ensure what happens next protects local jobs and is best for Watford and our town centre."

The council also owns a seven per cent stake in intu Watford. Intu has the remaining 93 per cent.

Earlier this month, the council said that if intu were to enter administration, the receiver would still have to continue to comply with the lease terms whilst running the centre, including paying rent to the council.

Mr Taylor added: "It was positive news to see that the centre will remain open, as we know that people are returning to the High Street.

"With more businesses, including restaurants and bars, opening next week, we are expecting Watford to continue to be popular and busy as we emerge from lockdown."

Meanwhile, Watford MP Dean Russell urged administrators to do "all they can" to allow intu centres to remain open so "shops can continue to operate whilst decisions are being made".

He said: "I know first-hand that the team has been working really hard throughout this crisis and adapting where possible. I understand that whilst intu Watford has not been hit as hard as the other 16 centres, it is understandably worrying for all the staff involved.

"People's shopping habits have changed drastically in recent years so high streets across the country have struggled and this is why I fully back the #lovelocalbusiness as it is really important we shop locally wherever and whenever we can."

Watford Labour Group Leader Nigel Bell added: "This is obviously a very worrying decision and I would hope all involved, including the Mayor, use all levers available to them to try and keep jobs going for our residents.

"It would be a big symbolic blow for Watford if it closed."