Multiplex has bought Friars Square shopping centre in Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire for less than its £90m asking price.

Multiplex agreed to buy the centre for below the asking price in September as reported in Property Week (05-10-07) and the completion of the deal is the first deal in shopping centre investment for weeks.

F&C Property Asset Management and CBRE Investors put the 306,000 sq ft shopping centre on the market in June and by July it was under offer to a joint venture between Protego Real Estate and Boultbee Land. However, the sale fell victim to the credit crunch amid fears the centre's value could fall.

The shopping centre investment market is still suffering the effects of the liquidity crisis and many shopping centres are remaining on the market without any potential buyers.

Aylesbury is the second shopping centre scheme in Buckinghamshire that Multiplex has owned. Its Eden shopping centre, a 825,000 sq ft retail and leisure scheme it has developed in High Wycombe, will open in March 2008.

Multiplex said it liked Aylesbury because of ‘the catchment area, the lack of quality retail space on offer in the town, population density and the planned increase in population under the UK government’s Sustainable Communities Plan.’

Multiplex’s plan for Aylesbury is at an early stage but it said ‘a number of potential commercial development initiatives have been identified which will increase and improve the space available for retailers’.

The initial phase of construction work is scheduled to commence during the summer of 2008 and the project is expected to be completed in 2013. The project is 100% owned by Multiplex.

Jayne McGivern, chief executive, Multiplex UK, said: ‘To capture this highly rated development opportunity is a real credit to Multiplex’s retail team and I look forward to the project getting underway.’