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Birmingham's Fort Retail Park: Back On The Market At £80M As Investors Rethink

The Fort, clouds gathering

Is now the moment to sell Birmingham’s Fort Shopping Park?

With a price slashed from £130M to £80M, a new attempt is to be made to dispose of the 332K SF out-of-town retail hub.

An earlier attempt to sell at a £130M asking price collapsed in November 2019 even after the price was slashed to £90M. This time round the asking price is £80M, React News reported.

The Fort has suffered further occupier distress since the 2019 sale effort, and the tenant list reads like a catalogue of retail casualties: Debenhams, Mothercare and Topshop have now gone; New Look suffered a CVA that landlords failed to stop in the courts this week; and River Island has had its own woes, including steps toward a CVA.

However, an abrupt turnaround in market sentiment toward out-of-town retail could mean it is third time lucky. Retail parks have suffered fewer occupier insolvencies than in-town shopping centres or the high street during 2018-2020, according to Savills, thanks to relatively muted competition from e-commerce for what are essential buys.

The Savills report noted submarkets weighted toward out-of-town parks have witnessed a return of sales growth higher than at the same time last year. For example, take-home grocery sales were up 9.4% in Q3 2020, while homeware sales in July climbed 3.6% year-on-year, compared to a UK average of -4.6%. At the same time, value-oriented retailers are expanding. Lidl has opened more than 50 new stores in 2020, and the number is in excess of 30 for Aldi.

Savills concluded that there were “significant investment opportunities”.

Delancey was understood to be in talks with owner Nuveen and its partners CBRE Global Investors and M&G Real Estate for the 303K SF retail park when the 2019 sale collapsed.

The deal, which had it been agreed would have been £40M below the original asking price, is now off, React News reported.

The centre last changed hands at the height of the boom in 2006 for a sum approaching £250M.