DUDLEY South’s MP says he hopes the takeover of Merry Hill will lead to further investment at the centre.

Mall owners The Westfield Group confirmed yesterday (Thursday) that it had entered into a conditional agreement to sell off its 50 per cent share of the Merry Hill shopping centre to Intu Properties for £407.7m.

David Fischel, Intu's chief executive, said the deal - which will see Australian investment company QIC retaining its 50 per cent share in Merry Hill – will fill gaps in Intu’s national coverage.

Conservative MP Chris Kelly, whose constituency includes Merry Hill, said: "I hope this deal will herald a new era of further investment at Merry Hill. It is an absolutely vital centre of employment for Dudley South and the Black Country."

Intu, which runs 16 shopping centres across the country including Manchester’s Trafford Centre, intends to rebrand the Black Country shopping hotspot as Intu Merry Hill and plans to bring in new key stores including international retailers.

It also wants to cut the number of smaller units , add more restaurants, give the centre a revamp and improve on promotional events and activities laid on.

Meanwhile Westfield is keeping its two major malls in London (Westfield London and Westfield Stratford) and it also intends to pursue major development opportunities in Milan, Italy, and Croydon in London.

Merry Hill, which comprises 1.4 million sq ft of retail space, 214 shop units and attracts around 25 million customer visits a year, is currently number 13 in a ranking of UK shopping centres.