ST AUSTELL shoppers should forget about big-name brands such as Marks and Spencer opening at White River Place any time soon, the centre's new owners have said.
Curzon Capital Partners III joined forces Ellandi, which owns four other shopping centres, to purchase the St Austell shopping hub, it was confirmed this week.
Morgan Garfield, Ellandi partner, told the Cornish Guardian it was bought for between £20 and £25 million and they were attracted to the town because of its mix of character and modern convenience.
But Mr Garfield said some of the high street's most popular names were not interested in St Austell at the present time.
"Unfortunately, the reality is, retailers are very scientific in the type of town they will go to," he said.
"We actually don't have big enough units to persuade a Primark or an H&M to come to St Austell and it's not a big enough town. We do need to be realistic."
Local businessman Mike Coles, who owns Broadley Park Properties Ltd, echoed these sentiments. "The sale of White River Place (WRP) is great news for the town," he said. "[Ellandi] are people that have the knowledge and resources to turn the fortunes of WRP around.
"But, don't expect miracles. We won't get Marks and Spencer or Next in the short term. What Ellandi need to do is fill empty shops to create interest and therefore footfall and allow the centre to recover.
"Once footfall is up to expected levels, other retailers will take notice of the town and want to trade here.
He added that the letting of units to retailers like the 99p Stores (due to open in the autumn) is not a negative thing and premium brands will be attracted once footfall increases.
Mr Garfield said despite this, they are "delighted" as they believe WRP is a "wonderful piece of real estate".
"We are retail experts with an understanding to what the retail environment currently looks like," he added.
"We have got really close relationships with a number of retailers who we think hopefully might like a home in St Austell."
Mr Coles said the sales brochure for the scheme was produced in July 2010 and at least two buyers previously withdrew after agreeing terms to buy.
WRP took more than seven years to build and cost about £75 million to complete.
"The biggest issue with WRP is the fact that the previous owners were in negative equity from day one," he said.