THE new owners of Bradford's Kirkgate Centre retail mall have hinted that they will take a more "hands-on" approach to its operations.

The 350,000 sq ft centre in Darley Street has been sold by its previous private Irish owners to private equity group HIG Capital, along with another shopping centre in Newbury, for a reported combined price of about £60 million.

Catherine Riley, Kirkgate Centre manager, welcomed the deal and described it as "a vote of confidence" in Bradford.

She said shopper numbers and car park usage at Kirkgate have also increased since The Broadway shopping centre opened last month.

The mall was built in 1976, originally as an Arndale Centre, and has since been refurbished twice in 1988 and 2001. It attracts about 300,000 shoppers a week.

Mrs Riley said: ‘This is exciting news for the Kirkgate centre and a great vote of confidence in Bradford as a shopping destination. We’ve served the needs of loyal Bradford customers for over 40 years and this news marks a new phase in our journey.

"Business here in the centre is brisk with both footfall and car park usage up."

The two-level Kirkgate Centre includes more than 70 retail units, 650 parking spaces and Bradford Council's Kirkgate Market.

Property agents Savills was instructed to sell the Kirkgate Centre along with centres in Newbury and Scunthorpe by Deutsche Bank with a £81 million price-tag.

Kirkgate was priced at £51.5million.

Riccardo Dallolio, managing director at HIG in London, said : “This follows our acquisition of the Grosvenor Centre in Chester in May of this year and further demonstrates our ability to secure attractive transactions in the UK retail sector which possess solid fundamentals but can benefit from the more active hands-on asset management which we can provide.”

Meanwhile, figures released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that retail sales across the county grew for the 31st consecutive month in November, increasing by five per cent compared with November 2014.

And consumers benefitted from keener deals as average store prices, including petrol stations, fell by 3.3 per cent last month compared with

November 2014 - the 17th consecutive month of year-on-year price falls.

The amount spent in the retail industry also increased by 1.4 per cent last month compared with November 2014 and increased by 1.4 per cent compared with October 2015.

And the figures also reveal that online shopping is continuing to grow rapidly with the value of online sales increasing by 12.7 per cent in November 2015 compared with November 2014 and by 4.9 per cent compared with October 2015.