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Bloomfield Shopping Centre goes up for sale at £54m

By Margaret Canning

Published 05/09/2015

Bangor’s Bloomfield Shopping Centre is the latest retail park in Northern Ireland to go on the market
Bangor’s Bloomfield Shopping Centre is the latest retail park in Northern Ireland to go on the market

Co Down retail asset Bloomfield Shopping Centre, formerly owned by one of Northern Ireland's richest men, has gone on the market for £54m.

The Bangor development is the latest major retail property to go on sale in Northern Ireland, following hot on the heels of Junction One and The Outlet discount parks being offered to potential buyers for around £60m.

Bloomfield Centre, which is anchored by M&S and Tesco, has rental income of £4.66m, and a new Next store is due to open in April 2016.

Tenants in the separate retail park include Laura Ashley, DW Sports and Pets at Home.

Ulster Bank appointed a fixed charge receiver to Bloomfield last year, which has led to receivers putting it on the market.

The shopping mall is part of the portfolio of Donegall Place Investments Ltd, led by KFC tycoon Michael Herbert , one of Northern Ireland's richest people.

Donegall Place Investments posted losses of £25m in its latest set of accounts up to September 30, 2014.

Turnover also fell, dropping by more than a third to £10.4m.

Bloomfield is the main centre in Bangor and its robust retail line-up of River Island, Boots, H&M, and Marks & Spencer - as well as anchors M&S and Tesco - are a major pull to shoppers.

Agency Colliers was appointed by Ulster Bank to manage the centre at the beginning of last year.

In the run-up to Colliers' appointment, Bloomfield had suffered the effects of retailer collapses, with Peacocks going into administration in 2012 shortly after the centre had completed an extension to house it.

The centre also lost occupants in 2013 after homewares firm Hanna and Browne went into administration and shoe chain Barratts went out of business.

Mark Garmon-Jones, investment director at Savills, said: "Bloomfield Shopping Centre and Retail Park dominates the retail offer in Bangor. This popular scheme will be further enhanced with the addition of a new full offer Next which has already led to an increase in tenant demand."

And Gavin Elliott, director of the investment team at agents CBRE, added: "Bloomfield Shopping Centre and Retail Park is a strong retail destination, located in an affluent area.

"The investment currently offers a steady income stream and we expect there will be strong interest from both UK and international-based investors who will be attracted by the asset management and value-add opportunities within the scheme. "

Last week the Belfast Telegraph revealed that Ballymena's Fairhill Shopping Centre, owned by Sam Morrison, was on the market for £52.5m - though it's understood Mr Morrison may be refinancing so that he can buy back the centre.

Meanwhile, commercial law firm Tughans has said its property team acted for Mr Morrison's firm, Corbo Group, in the sale of three other retail assets, Lisnagelvin Retail Park in Strabane, a development occupied by Homebase and the UK Border Agency at Drumkeen in south-east Belfast, and the Showgrounds in Omagh.

The three retail properties were sold for a combined £53m, according to Tughans. Lisnagelvin was sold for £16.7m to M&G Real Estate, while Pradera and Tristan Capital Partners acquired the Showgrounds Retail Park in Omagh for £26.7m.

And a private Northern Ireland investor snapped up the Upper Galwally development for £9.8m.

Phyllis Agnew, head of real estate at Tughans, said: 'The completion of these deals for the Corbo Group represents a significant boost to inward investment here and a positive sign for the local economy.

"They come on the back of a busy 12 months in the Northern Irish property market.

"We have seen an increased appetite from investors, including major UK funds, to get back into Northern Ireland particularly when there is an opportunity to acquire such high-quality assets as these investments.

"Our real estate team also recently completed the sale of Erneside Shopping Centre in Enniskillen to another joint venture comprising Tristan Capital Partners and Ellandi."

Sam Morrison himself added: "Both Corbo and Tughans understand the local market, its pressures and obstacles, but also its opportunities and potential.

"With the renewed interest in the Northern Ireland property market it is a good time to sell, returns are strong and the market is really starting to move again."

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