Land Securities seals Google deal to combat web exodus

LONDON Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:44am EST

LONDON Jan 23 (Reuters) - Britain's largest listed property company Land Securities has agreed a deal with internet search giant Google to drive business to its malls, the latest move by a retail landlord to combat the growth of online shopping.

It follows a move earlier this month by Capital Shopping Centres Group to open a fashion website where shoppers can buy and collect from its centres and invest in a new free wi-fi network.

The Land Securities tie-up with Google Product Search comes as the number of its retail units in administration, including Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster, rose from 1.8 percent at the end of September to 2.2 percent, the company said in a trading update on Wednesday.

Against the backdrop of a growing number of retail failures in the UK, the British online market grew 14 percent in 2012, according to online retail industry body IMRG, which forecast it would grow 12 percent to 87 billion pounds ($138.05 billion) in 2013.

In March, Land Securities will open the UK's only new mall this year, Trinity Leeds, which is 90 percent pre-let, which the company described as "a good result in a difficult market".

Elsewhere in its property portfolio, insurer RSA leased four floors in the so-called Walkie Talkie skyscraper in London's financial district, showing the divided nature of the market in the square mile which has seen banking and finance companies retrench while insurers seek new office space.

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