London investment firms snap up Erneside for £34.25m
Co Fermanagh's main shopping centre Erneside has been sold to two London property investment companies for £34.25m.
Marks & Spencer, Next and New Look are the three main anchor tenants at Erneside in Enniskillen, and Vodafone, Clarks and Costa Coffee also occupy units.
The shopping centre specialist Ellandi and real-estate asset management firm Tristan Capital Partners made the purchase this month from long-term owner Diageo Pension Trust.
The pension fund had owned the shopping centre since 1998, and carried out major extensions from 1998-2000 and 2006-2008.
The centre, which was built in 1989, is currently at 97% occupancy.
Ellandi - which will also act as the asset manager - and Tristan Capital Partners already have a long-standing working relationship, but this is the first time either firm has made an investment in Northern Ireland.
Ellandi owns 21 shopping centres throughout the UK, while most of Tristan Capital Partners' acquisitions are in continental Europe, as well as a presence in the UK. Last month, the two firms bought Dartford Shopping Centre for £33m.
Chris Webb, associate director at Tristan Capital Partners, said this was the right time for the firm to enter the property market in the province. "Erneside is the dominant large shopping centre in Co Fermanagh, and attracts around 3m visitors a year," he said. "This is an opportune time for Tristan to take its first step into the Northern Irish investment market and acquire a high quality asset at an attractive price."
Mr Webb added that the market in the Province is behind that of the rest of the UK, providing better value as an investment.
He said: "The Northern Irish market is still showing a disproportionate yield discount to the UK mainland, but this is disappearing quickly as both investor demand and the availability of competitively-priced bank debt increases."
Lucy Winterburn, director of investment at Cordea Savills, which acted as investment agent and managing agent for the disposal of Erneside Shopping Centre, said it has been a successful investment for Diageo. "Erneside has played a large part in the Fund's performance success over the last 20 years and is unrecognisable from the investment that we purchased in 1995," she said.
Shopping centres in the Province are now an attractive investment, Ms Winterburn said. "We were keen to take advantage of the favourable market conditions, capitalising on strong investor interest in Northern Ireland shopping centres."
"We have already identified a number of opportunities to re-invest the sale proceeds to develop other assets in the portfolio, both on a pre-let and speculative basis."
In 2013 Cordea Savill paid nearly £12m for a B&Q retail warehouse at Craigavon, on behalf of the Bishopsgate Long Term Property Unit Trust.