Belfast Telegraph

Quays Shopping Centre owner to refinance 'in near future' as deadline looms on borrowing

The Quays, Newry.
The Quays, Newry.
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

The property group behind Newry shopping centre The Quays has said it will refinance its loans "in the near future" as the deadline for repayment of its borrowings approaches.

Parker Green International, which was founded by by millionaire Gerard O'Hare, also owns the Fairgreen Shopping Centre in Carlow in the Republic of Ireland.

It is in the middle of a £20m extension of The Quays, which will include a Marks & Spencer following the chain's decision to relocate from the city's Buttercrane Shopping Centre.

The Quays also said the centre, which is anchored by Sainsbury's and features a large Debenhams, had benefited from an increase in trade following the Brexit vote.

Parker Green developed The Quays and Fairgreen with loans from Anglo Irish Bank, which were later sold by the Republic's bad bank Nama to US fund Cerberus as part of the controversial Project Eagle sale in 2014.

It refinanced two years ago with Magenta Asset Management Ltd.

Now financial statements for Parker Green for the year ending December 2016 note that the loans are due to be repaid by January, but that the repayment depended on the properties in the group being sold, "which has not occurred".

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But the company told the Belfast Telegraph that it would not be selling its best-known assets. "There are no plans to sell the Quays or Fairgreen Carlow," it said.

"The company expects to refinance its loans, which were secured post-Nama/Cerberus in the near future."

Parker Green said smaller assets than The Quays and Fairgreen - including a buidling at Merrion Square in Dublin - had been targeted for sale.

"In line with other developers, the company has been reviewing its portfolio post-Nama and Cerberus, with the disposal of smaller non-performing assets. It is likely that this will continue.

"The company, for example, sold its refurbished Merrion Square Building last year at a yield of 4.7%, securing a sale price of €10.3m.

"A number of smaller properties, including Exchange Street in Waterford City at €1.0m, were also sold.

"The company has also divested itself of most of its overseas properties and intends to focus on the UK and Irish markets for the foreseeable future."

The company said M&S would be the main tenant of the phase five extension at The Quays, along with a new Next store and a Pure Gym.

The extension is to open next spring.

The spokesman added: "The Quays' existing mall continues to attract exciting new blue chip tenants including Superdry, Sostrene Green, Body Shop, New Look and Smiggle. There is also a proposed future phase of development at Fairgreen, which will likely be a 2018/2019 initiative."

And the spokeman said the business had enjoyed a post-Brexit boost.

"The Quays has seen an expediential upturn in footfall and business since the Brexit vote in 2016 and this is expected to continue for the foreseeable future with the weakened strength of sterling.

"Paradoxically, the company has seen continued steady growth and full occupancy in its Carlow centre which the company feels is far enough away from the border not to be immediately impacted by cross-border trends. The company is confident about the future and believes the recent trends, as outlined, are strong indicators for continued recovery in the market."

Belfast Telegraph