Belfast Telegraph

Brighter future for struggling Co Down shopping centre Flagship

English developer lines up new tenants for Bangor shopping centre

By Rachel Martin

A struggling Co Down shopping centre has been sold twice in two months - including a deal involving former owner Michael Herbert, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Flagship Centre Ltd, a company owned by KFC tycoon Mr Herbert, bought the centre back from US vulture-fund Cerberus at the end of May.

And English property developer North Hold Group has become the latest buyer of the Flagship shopping centre in Bangor after it hit the market again last month.

The deal is expected to be completed in the next few weeks, when retail agency Colliers will being managing the outlet.

The sums paid by Flagship Centre Ltd or North Hold Group have not been revealed, but the complex had an asking price of £1.5m when on sale through Osborne King.

As part of its deal, Flagship Centre Ltd took back the residual debt.

However, the debt is not part of the deal with North Hold Group.

Currently the centre only has eight tenants, including anchor retailer Dunnes, out of a possible 30 units.

In 2012, an exodus of retailers left the future of the Bangor shopping centre in doubt.

Game Stop, Woodside’s Department Store, Focus men’s clothing shop, D2, Ethel Austin, Peacock’s and Bon Marche were among those to leave. And since then several units in the centre have remained vacant.

Retailers currently occupying the centre also include Superdrug, Pound World and Argos. The centre also includes a food court with tenants KFC, Burger King and Subway.

However, new owner North Hold Group — a commercial property firm in Manchester specialising in retail and leisure schemes — is understood to have secured new tenants including an opticians, a gym and a jewellers.

The centre was previously owned by Michael Herbert — whose business Herbel Restaurants runs several KFC franchises around the UK and Republic of Ireland.

In 2006, he was named Northern Ireland’s property personality of the year.

The Bangor centre was sold to Cerberus before it was listed for sale with Osborne King last month.

The sale includes an adjoining 550 space multi-storey car park.

Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) chief executive Glyn Roberts welcomed the news of the sale.  

“This is great news for Bangor town centre — there have been some concerns that the centre could have been used for residential development but the town really needs more independent retailers. I’m optimistic that will bring more life into Bangor town centre.

“Traders in Bangor have been hit badly by out of town developments.

“Despite North Down being an affluent area with a lot of disposable income recently, Bangor town centre hasn’t been as strong as it should be. The council has a duty to develop the town centre in Bangor.

“The town centre has a strong hospitality and night economy but the day economy needs to grow.

“The council needs to effectively carry out an audit of the vacant units and see what it can do to get more retailers to move in.

“I would like to see more residents shopping locally — Newtownards is a great example of that and has done very well recently.”

Just five miles away Ards Shopping Centre announced it will undergo a £7m revamp and has secured tenancy deals with TK Maxx and JD Sports.

Donegall Place Investments — another Michael Herbert company — was the owner of Bloomfield Shopping Centre, also in Bangor, and Bow Street Mall in Lisburn.

Receivers were appointed to Bloomfield Shopping Centre in 2014. 

It was sold to London investment firm Ellandi and Tristan Capital Partners for £54.5m in January this year.

Belfast Telegraph