NEW Sovereign Centre manager Peter Ruscoe plans a major revamp to better meet the needs of Boscombe residents.

The centre’s owners, NewRiver Retail, recently bought the adjacent 45,000 square foot former TJ Hughes store, which has been vacant since the chain went into administration in 2011.

The company remains tight-lipped about its plans for redevelopment, although it has hinted that improvements at the similar Forum shopping centre in Wallsend, North Tyneside, might hold a clue.

Mr Ruscoe, who was previously store director at Beales in Bournemouth town centre and has managed many high street stores including Apple and House of Fraser, said the plans would involve changes throughout the centre, not just limited to the extension.

“NewRiver are looking for an anchor tenant, some other retailers and some leisure as well,” he said.

“It would be quite a transformation but these plans can take 12 to 24 months – a lot can change in that time.

“But a lot of money has been invested and the company will want to complete the development as quickly as possible.”

NewRiver invested £5million into the Forum centre redevelopment, which included transforming empty retail space into a 50,000 square foot library and community centre.

Mr Ruscoe said he hoped the changes when complete would encourage visitors into the centre and Boscombe, but that the primary focus was on serving the needs of the local community.

“We are a value shopping centre, 70 per cent of our customers are based ten minutes walk away,” he said.

“It is important we try to put ourselves in the heart of the community.

“It is great that the business community, the council the BID and others are so focussed on creating a strong community here.”

He said the centre would focus on boosting local education and healthcare by hosting events and supporting campaigns.