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The Clock Is Ticking For UK Shopping Centre Bargain Hunters As Duke Offloads His Local Mall

The clocktower in Chester

Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster's family £10B property business, has sold the freehold of the shopping centre on His Grace’s doorstep.

The freehold of the 212K SF Grosvenor Shopping centre at Eastgate Street, Chester, has been sold to Irish investor Martin Property Group.

The sale comes just days after the bargain-hunting Derry/Londonderry buyer acquired a 1.2M SF portfolio of UK shopping centres from Dutch owners Stichting Mars Pensioenfonds.

The deal, which included three shopping centres in the North West and others in the Midlands, Scotland and South West, announced the return to prominence of UK shopping centres, albeit largely as assets for repositioning and redevelopment.

However, the buys also come as confidence begins to fracture in the UK economy’s capacity to withstand inflation rates now being tipped to reach as high as 18% (according to Citibank) or 22% (according to Goldman Sachs). The clock is ticking before the full effects of the cost-of-living squeeze begins to damage medium-term prospects of reviving or repositioning shopping centres acquired at a discount. 

The Duke’s Grosvenor Eaton Estate granted a 150-year head lease of the centre in 1996, which is now in the hands of the receivers of H.I.G. Chester Property S.a.r.l. This opens the door to further involvement by Martin Property Group, with repositioning now looking likely.

The new owner gets a Jury’s Inn Hotel and a 400-space car park along with the centre.