THE firm trying to sell a beleaguered Southampton shopping centre last night revealed it has several potential buyers lined up.

But the property company confirmed the Bargate Shopping Centre is likely to close in the short termas it attempts to negotiate a deal.

BNP Paribas Real Estate said a number of firms have expressed an interest in the 25-year-old complex, but discussions have not progressed quickly enough.

With just 11 units currently occupied in the three-storey complex, and some of those tenants not being charged rent, the firm, which is acting on behalf of receivers for the centre owners, said it had been running at a “significant loss” for months.

As revealed in yesterday’s Daily Echo, some of the stunned businesses based at the Bargate Centre have now been told they have just four weeks to find somewhere else to move to.

Stuart Cook, from BNP Paribas Real Estate, said there is no alternative but to attempt to stem the losses as they search for a buyer – a process which has already been ongoing for ten months.

He said: “We have been in negotiation with a number of parties, but unfortunately those haven’t moved close enough to agreement where there’s enough confidence of a sale in the short term.

“One of the challenges is the fact that the centre costs a lot to keep open and running.

“It’s very unfortunate news, but there’s a limit as to how long you can go on incurring those losses.

“A number of the occupiers have not been paying rent, and so it’s been necessary to serve notice on the tenants to reduce the cost burden.”

But Mr Cook said he believes a buyer will emerge.

He said: “We continue to be optimistic about a sale, but it may take several months for things to move on significantly.

It depends on who ends up buying it, but logic dictates that it will stay as a retail centre.”