Former world championship boxer Ricky Hatton has emerged as a key investor in a £30m office, residential and retail development in the heart of Leicester.
Through his property investment company, the Manchester-based multiple title-winner has taken a significant stake in the 115,000 sq ft New Walk development on the former Leicester City Council site being developed by Leicester property company Sowden Group.
The development, being built by contractors Sisk, includes 50,000 sq ft of Grade A office space to be occupied by Enderby-based wealth management and employee benefit business Mattioli Woods. The offices will form their new headquarters and bring more than 500 jobs to the site. Also in the development are 54 high-end apartments and 10,000 sq ft of retail space.
Ricky Hatton said he got to know Sowden Group owner and managing director Roy Coley through professional associations, and he was delighted to be investing in such an important Leicester city centre project.
"Obviously my boxing career has enabled me and my advisors to become involved in other projects since retirement, and like most successful sportsmen there is no shortage of fly-by-nights looking to relieve the company of the money I earned in the ring," he said.
"That's why it's good to know someone like Roy who is a man who knows property and building much the same as I know boxing and we have similar backgrounds. I feel we can work in complete confidence and in Mike Ball at MacIntyre Hudson we both have the reassurance that we are well supported by the same professional advisors."
Hatton, who was awarded the MBE in 2007, has held world championship titles in light welterweight and welterweight divisions. Before retiring from the ring in 2012 he won 45 of his 48 professional fights, 32 of them by a knockout. He was named Fighter of the Year in 2005.
Through his property investment company he has other investments in Leicestershire and the East Midlands as well as elsewhere in the UK and overseas.
Roy Coley of the Sowden Group said: "The New Walk development is a prestigious one for the city of Leicester and it is fantastic that Ricky has made a significant investment in the project," he said.
Established in 1950, the Leicester city centre-based Sowden Group has been, and continues to be, involved in some of the biggest regeneration projects in the centre of Leicester, providing much-needed Grade A office space, retail units and city centre accommodation. Sowden played an instrumental role in the £300m Highcross shopping centre development.
The group is also involved in residential projects throughout the county of Leicestershire, including major developments in Loughborough and Melton Mowbray. Recent projects include a 3,750 sq m supermarket for Asda and office space in Pioneer Park, Leicester, the Travelodge and Gala Casino in Leicester and Nottingham's Castle Wharf.