Landsec’s Bluewater deal highlights falls in procuring centre values


Business landlord Landsec has purchased a stake within the Bluewater procuring centre in Kent, in a deal that demonstrates how far and quick values for this form of property have fallen in recent times.

The FTSE 100 group, which already owns nearly a 3rd of the mall, paid £172m to Lendlease Retail Partnership for its 25 per cent stake in Bluewater, implying a complete valuation for the procuring centre of £688m. 

That’s lower than a 3rd of its implied valuation of £2.19bn in 2014, when Landsec purchased a 30 per cent stake from Lendlease for £656m. As a part of that deal, Landsec paid a further £40m for the land surrounding Bluewater and the appropriate to handle the centre.

With tenants together with Apple, John Lewis, Primark and Zara and inside putting distance of London, Bluewater is taken into account one of many UK’s “prime” procuring centres. It is without doubt one of the largest within the UK and receives tens of thousands and thousands of holiday makers a 12 months.

Nevertheless it has not been resistant to the worth destruction that has hit the sector over the previous decade as on-line procuring has surged.

The pandemic accelerated ecommerce additional and has been a boon for on-line retailers resembling Amazon, worsening issues for malls and excessive streets. It has additionally saved retailers shut for lengthy intervals, making it arduous for procuring centre tenants to pay lease.

In June 2020, simply three months after the primary UK lockdown, procuring centre landlord Intu fell into administration.

However final month, Landsec posted its first revenue of the pandemic interval due to a restoration in workplace and retail park values. Its funding in Bluewater alerts the corporate’s perception that the market has stopped falling.

“Pre-pandemic there was a tricky development [in retail] after which the freefall of valuation throughout the pandemic was startling for the business. However rents have fallen and are sustainable at in the present day’s ranges. We’re seeing the chance,” mentioned Bruce Findlay, managing director of retail at Landsec.

The Lendlease deal simplified the possession of Bluewater, mentioned Findlay, and it might now look to renovate the centre and tilt the combo of tenants additional in the direction of leisure and hospitality, which presently account for about 20 per cent of area.

“General funding within the subsequent two years might be £100m throughout the entire procuring centre and outlet property, and Bluewater might be a giant a part of that . . . It’s an indication of our dedication to the sector, we’re actually all in,” he mentioned.

Since he was appointed in April 2020, Landsec chief govt Mark Allan has indicated that he sees worth in bodily retailers and is pursuing a method of investing in massive procuring centres.

Regional procuring centres and stores make up some 15 per cent of Landsec’s £11bn portfolio. Nearly all of its belongings are London places of work.

Mike Prew, an analyst at Jefferies, famous that Landsec’s funding in Bluewater might drag down the general valuation of its retail properties and the sector extra broadly, as a result of the £172m buy worth was at a roughly 20 per cent low cost to the worth assigned to the stake it already owned when it revealed its full-year accounts in March this 12 months.


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