Junction One and The Outlet shopping centres finally sold for £40m
Banbridge property developers and London investment firm move to bring Outlet and Junction One under single umbrella
Two of Northern Ireland's biggest retail parks - Junction One and The Outlet - have been sold in a deal worth £40m.
It comes three months after the Belfast Telegraph revealed the shopping centres were in the process of being sold off.
It has now been confirmed that the Banbridge-based Lotus Group and London investment firm Tristan Capital Partners have taken on the centres.
The retail parks were originally put on the market for approximately £60m.
Both businesses - which each have around 50 stores - have faced their own problems over the years.
Junction One, a massive retail site located just outside Antrim, was set up in 2004, boasting a range of big names.
But in the latest set of published accounts for the company, it was valued at less than £8m. That is around a tenth of its given value back in 2009.
The businesses at Junction One currently employ more than 1,000 staff.
It is being sold by the borrower with consent from Ulster Bank, along with administrators who are representing previous shareholders.
Banbridge's The Outlet park was opened in 2007 at a cost of £70m.
The site counts a number of big-name brands among its tenants, including Marks & Spencer and a Gap Outlet.
According to the new owners, work is now under way to "enhance the leisure and food and beverage offering".
That includes a new McDonald's and the fit-out of an eight-screen cinema.
Alastair Coulson, director of asset and property management at The Lotus Group said: "Our acquisition of both retail parks demonstrates our confidence in the market in Northern Ireland.
"This is one of the largest retail deals to take place in the region this year and we are excited to play a central role.
"Now that The Outlet and Junction One are both under single ownership, there is a significant opportunity for us to enhance and differentiate the sites.
"There will be a period of substantial investment to reinvigorate the schemes."
"We will be enhancing both destinations and providing additional and more diverse brands.
"Our strategy will direct The Outlet towards a mid-premium market position and differentiate this from Junction One, with a mid-value convenience position within the market."
Peter Mather, managing director at Tristan Capital Partners, said the deal "represents a unique opportunity to bring together two outlet centres currently under separate ownership.
"Combined, these centres account for the vast majority of the outlet market in Northern Ireland".
The sale of the retail parks is the latest major commercial property deal here during the past 12 months.
At the end of last year, Bangor shopping centre Bloomfield was sold for £54.5m to London investment firm Ellandi and Tristan Capital Partners.
The sale of the retail site was the fifth biggest deal involving a Northern Ireland business during 2015.
Other deals included Fairhill in Ballymena, which went for more than £45m.