Belfast Telegraph

Ulster offers chances to buy the whole shop

By Clare Weir

The rising number of properties up for sale due to insolvencies and administrations could present bumper opportunities for investment, according to a new report.

In a bi-monthly report on the latest trends in the commercial property market in Northern Ireland, property consultants CBRE said that in the last two months there has been an unexpected increase in large property portfolios going into administration.

The report says that while the rising level of insolvencies is a result of the continuing difficult conditions in the market, with strong demand for prime retail investment opportunities, there will be plenty of potential for investors with capital.

The document said that significant properties currently under offer to UK institutional investors include a Tesco store in Lisburn, a Sainsbury's store and adjoining site on the Strand Road in Londonderry and a B-amp;Q store also in Derry. CBRE said that while the retail sector remains under pressure with high-profile casualties, European retailers have continued to look at Belfast for expansion.

In a nod to the new rating levy for large-scale retailers, otherwise known as the 'Tesco Tax', CBRE has said that it is too early to tell what impact it will have.

The leisure side of the market has been active in recent weeks with new lettings announced such as Mourne Seafood at Wellington Place in Belfast and a number of new lettings at St Anne's Square.

Brian Lavery, managing director of CBRE in Northern Ireland, said that rising levels of insolvencies have presented the market with quality assets which will increase the level of spend invested in Northern Ireland over 2012.

"The real momentum of growth for retail at the moment, is coming from the tourism and leisure sectors, where an increase in visitor and hotel occupancy levels, accompanied by the opening of the MAC theatre and the Titanic exhibition should fuel consumer spending levels coming in to the summer," he said.