New tenant set to be revealed by owners of Sprucefield Retail Park
The new owners of Sprucefield Retail Park said there is a new retail name set to occupy the former home of Toys R Us on the site, with an announcement imminent.
NewRiver, which acquired the Lisburn site for £40m, said it plans to "invest significantly" with the possibility of adding a hotel to the site's unused 18 acres.
"We will certainly look at the development land to bring forward development opportunities but to do that we will take our time to get it right and consult very closely with the local council and communities," NewRiver chief executive Allan Lockhart said.
"We want to make sure what we deliver is going to be supported but there is definitely potential to bring in some additional retail and leisure names and things like a hotel," he added.
Sprucefield Retail Park is a 47-acre site with five units, anchored by Sainsbury's and B&Q.
It was put on the market by previous owners Intu for £46.5m in October in a bid to improve its balance sheets and its sale brings its disposals total to £268m this year .
Mr Lockhart said the purchase of Sprucefield will add value to the company's portfolio of 33 community shopping centres, 24 retail parks and over 650 community pubs across the UK.
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"It's a great location being right beside the A1 and it's across from one of M&S' best performing stores and for us that demonstrates the strength of the location.
"We are very confident, with suitable development plans, we are only going to enhance the retail park."
He said the firm, which has been operating for 10 years, "views retail parks as good assets" because of the cheaper charges to tenants and free service level parking.
He also said a rise in 'click and collect' shopping is "going to be the biggest growth area of the market and retail parks are suited to that growth because they are accessible and free".
Sprucefield is the second NI takeover for the firm. It bought Abbeycentre in Co Antrim in 2014 and said it had pumped "significant" investment into the site, which gave way to new stores for tenants Next and Primark and an improved food court area.
"The centre is fully let and it's been a great purchase for us," said Mr Lockhart.