Belfast Telegraph

London investment trust's £7m deal to buy Newtownabbey retail park

By Sara Neill

A London-based real estate investment trust has paid out £7.15m for Valley Retail Park in Newtownabbey, months before its main tenant leaves.

The seven-unit site, home to Halfords, Harry Corry, Harveys, and Harvey Norman, was bought by AEW UK for £65,000 more than the asking price.

But Harvey Norman, which occupies two units, will move out of the retail park in late autumn, doubling the empty space.

The retailer is moving to the Boucher Road, and its bosses are trying to negotiate out of the lease.

The potential loss of its £590,000 annual rent will almost half the current rental income of more than £990,000.

A Harvey Norman spokesman said: "The relocation is happening gradually, and we are on track for a full opening of the Boucher store in the last week of October/start of November. Newtownabbey is now being used as a clearance store."

Blaine Callard, CEO at Harvey Norman, said: "Our location at Valley Retail Park in Newtownabbey simply wasn't working for us, and both the size and the location of the unit didn't allow us to really showcase the brand in terms of our furniture and interiors offering."

Another tenant, Harry Corry, entered a Company Voluntary Arrangement in April.

As part of its terms, the furnishings company requested a 20% reduction in rent over two years, bringing its rent to £107,640 a year.

Joint director William Corry confirmed to the Belfast Telegraph they have no plans to leave the Valley Retail Park site.

AEW announced the completion of the acquisition to the London Stock Exchange in the latest purchase for its REIT, which has invested around £40m.

AEW Portfolio Manager, Alex Short said: "We are pleased to have now completed four acquisitions for the REIT and are working in line with our proposed timetable as set out to investors prior to the REIT launch.

"We currently have under offer a range of similar deals and therefore expect to be able to make further announcements over the coming weeks."

The trust aims to give a return to shareholders by investing in smaller commercial properties in the UK.

Estate agents CBRE claim the empty units have been granted planning consent for bulky goods, which means vendors such as Mothercare, Argos or Pets at Home could move in with "relative planning ease".

Belfast Telegraph