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Cape Town - Intu Properties announced on Friday that it would not be replacing COO Mike Butterworth, who retired at the end of last year, but would change its senior management structure and effectively carve up the responsibilities.

Intu began life in the UK in 1980 as the fledgling international arm of Liberty Life Association of Africa.

The company now owns and operates many of the UK's biggest and most popular retail and leisure destinations, including nine of the top 20, incorporating super-regional centres such as Intu Trafford Centre, Intu Lakeside and Intu Metrocentre, together with a number of city centre locations from Watford to Newcastle.

Now an independent FTSE 100 property company, Intu is listed in London and Johannesburg.

With more than 23 million sq ft of space hosting top international retailers from Apple to Zara, Intu centres attract around 400 million customer visits per year. It has a growing presence in the Spanish market, owning two of Spain's top 10 centres, a development site in Malaga and options on three sites in Valencia, Palma and Vigo.

A statement from the company on Friday said Martin Breeden had been appointed development director, with responsibility across the UK and Spain, and Julian Wilkinson had been appointed asset management director, responsible for optimising the performance of Intu's UK shopping centres.

Breeden and Wilkinson, who each have more than 20 years' retail property experience, will report to CE David Fischel and join the group executive committee.

As with the former chief operating officer role, they will not be directors of the main board.

A statement from the company added CFO Matthew Roberts would assume responsibility for centre-based operations while retaining his existing responsibilities.

Fischel said: “These appointments highlight the strength and depth of senior management within Intu. They also ensure we continue to have high quality and experienced people focused on delivering our strategy of optimising asset performance, driving development momentum and seizing the growth opportunity in Spain.”