The owners of Watford’s shopping centre have defended its new name after readers criticised the decision to not bring back the Harlequin.

The town's indoor shopping centre, which was formerly known as intu Watford, will now be called Atria Watford under the new management of Global Mutual and Savills.

Following the takeover of intu Watford in October last year, many readers called for the shopping centre to be renamed the Harlequin, which is what it had been known as for around 20 years.

A lot of shoppers have never stopped calling the shopping centre the Harlequin since it changed name in 2013, and polls and engagement with readers suggested people wanted the name back after intu fell into administration last summer.

But readers were disappointed by the news today that the Harlequin name would not be returning despite the overwhelming support it received over the last few months.

Steve Gray, Head of European Retail Asset Management at Global Mutual, said the company believes the centre needs a “fresh start” under new ownership “that reflects the exciting future ambitions for Atria Watford”.

He said: “We remain incredibly respectful towards the sentiment The Harlequin holds in Watford, which has helped shape the strong community values the centre has today.

“Having received over £200m investment, including the new £180m extension, new retailers, restaurants and leisure activities, the centre looks unrecognisable from its past self, and will continue to evolve as we welcome exciting new brands and experiences.

“Atria Watford represents these exciting changes and celebrates a limitless, bright and prosperous future for Watford town centre.”

Read more:

Best and worst reactions as new name for intu Watford revealed

New name for Watford's shopping centre revealed

Dozens of comments have been left on the Observer's and Atria's social media pages questioning why the centre had not been renamed The Harlequin.

Michelle Anne Fox said: "People will still say they are going to the Harlequin, no one will say they are going to Atria it sounds more like a nightclub, I’m sure the majority of Watford residents would want it to be called the Harlequin again."

Laura Wallington added: "Name it all you want it’ll always be the Harlequin."

Donna Jones agreed, saying: "I will still call it the Harlequin and when I talk of it everyone knows what and where I mean."