Belfast Telegraph

Ulster property agency takes top spot in retail park guide

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland commercial property agents Osborne King have been ranked number one in two categories in a guide to retail and leisure parks.

Osborne King were top of the charts in the regional lettings agents and regional managing agents sections of the retail warehouse sector bible – the Definitive Guide to Retail and Leisure Parks 2014.

The annual review also listed OK among the Top 20 Letting and Managing Agents in the UK, while Corbo Properties came top in the retail warehousing ownership category for Northern Ireland.

The publication revealed that vacancy levels in bulky goods retail parks around the UK were 8.8%, the lowest levels since 2007.

Vacancy levels in parks housing fashion retail were also down to 6.9% from 7.5% recorded at the end of 2012.

Colin Mathewson, retail director at Osborne King, said: "This report is useful in highlighting the fact that low vacancy levels and reduced development activity have resulted in the retail warehouse sector's strong performance over the past year.

"We expect new retailers to expand into Northern Ireland in the year ahead and anticipate a return to rental growth as a result."

Boucher Retail Park in Belfast, which is owned by Corbo Properties, was Northern Ireland's top retail and leisure park.

Corbo recently sold their Shane Retail Park, also in the Boucher area, and Cityside Retail Park in north Belfast to US investors Marathon Asset Management.

It's understood Shane Retail Park was sold for nearly £30m, while Cityside fetched somewhere around £20m.

The review said that while there had been company failures in retail such as Focus, Comet and Dreams in the past year, a combination of expansion at thriving retailers, and the lack of new development, meant that much vacant space had now been re-occupied.

Discount retailer B&M Bargains was the most active retailer across the UK over the past year.

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