Belfast Telegraph

Property firm lands £28m for retail park

By Symon Ross

Northern Ireland property company Corbo has sold a retail park in Newry to a UK investor, for what is an initial payment of £28.4m.

Metric Property Investments — a UK specialist retail real estate investment trust which floated on the London Stock Exchange in March — said it will fund the deal for Damolly Retail Park from the company’s existing cash |resources.

The site’s tenants include B&Q, Smyths Toys, Carpetright, Next, and Currys, and is currently 93% let.

Potential further top-up payments of £6.5m will be due to the privately-owned company once the vacant units have been let to tenants.

Metric said yesterday that it has also acquired an adjoining development site with outline planning permission for a 14,000 sq ft supermarket, and would be looking to cash in on the cross-border trade from the Republic that has helped Newry retailers thrive over recent years.

Andrew Jones, chief executive of Metric, commented: “We have been rigorous in our investment strategy for Metric, and are very excited to be announcing this as our first transaction.

“This acquisition satisfies the key investment criteria that we set out at the time of the IPO — that is of acquiring well-let retail investments off low rents, and where our retail customers trade successfully.

“The park is let off low rents to a high quality line-up of tenants, where we believe that we can extract further value by leveraging our core asset management skills to increase income, and develop the vacant land.

“We will, furthermore, look to widen the existing planning consent, and further improve the tenant mix.”

Former owner Corbo, which is owned by Ballymena developer Sam Morrison, is the largest property company in Northern |Ireland.

Stephen Kirkpatrick, the firm’s chief executive, said: “We believe that this transaction demonstrates very clearly the high quality nature of Corbo’s extensive retail property portfolio.

“That portfolio is supported by the fact that a purchaser of Metric’s standing has chosen Damolly as its first investment.

“The transaction with Metric also further reinforces the increasing institutional nature of the Northern Ireland property market.

“This disposal forms part of Corbo’s strategy of pursuing growth opportunities from both within and outside its retail-focused property portfolio.”

Belfast Telegraph