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Irish Scent A Bargain, Dutch Offload As Shopping Centres Come Firmly Centre Stage


Martin Property Group, the Derry/Londonderry family-owned investor, has bought a 1.2M SF portfolio of UK shopping centres from Dutch owners Stichting Mars Pensioenfonds.

The deal signals the full-throttle return to prominence of UK shopping centres, albeit largely as assets for repositioning and redevelopment.

The deal — via the acquisition of Real Estate Investments Nederland BV — gives Martin control of the 120K SF Clarendon Shopping Centre Hyde, Greater Manchester and the nearby 320K SF Exchange Shopping Centre Rochdale; the 170K SF Ankerside Shopping Centre in Tamworth and 285K SF Four Seasons Shopping Centre Mansfield, both in the Midlands; and Westside Plaza in Edinburgh. The sixth asset is Angel Place Shopping Centre in Bridgwater, Somerset. Martin also acquired a portfolio of student accommodation from the same seller.

Martin Property already owns the 500K SF Fishergate shopping centre in Preston. Redevelopment plans include building on the car park.

The Dutch investor unloaded its portfolio after a review of its asset liabilities, but for Martin the purchase represents an opportunity to explore the repositioning, break-up and disposal options for which it is already well known. 

PwC and Lewis & Partners advised.

Investor sentiment has turned sharply toward shopping centres since the start of the year, amid confidence the market has reached the bottom after two years of steady destruction of capital values.

A long list of big-ticket sales includes the £140M sale of Basingstoke’s Festival Place Shopping Centre by AEW Europe/Teacher Retirement System of Texas; the £150M disposal of the Leicester Highcross Shopping Centre by Hammerson and its partners M&G Real Estate and Norinchukin Bank; and a brace of disposals by Capital & Regional. 

Yields hovering around, or exceeding, 9% are attracting an unusually diverse mix of bargain-hunting buyers.