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Hark appointed as asset manager for Mill Gate shopping centre

Hark has been appointed as asset manager for the Mill Gate shopping centre in Bury, Greater Manchester. This follows the acquisition of the centre by InfraRed Capital Partners from SWIP, which is now part of Aberdeen Asset Management, for £52m.

Mill Gate is located in the centre of Bury, where it forms the core of the commercial hub of the town adjacent to the famous Bury Market and the Metrolink station. It comprises over 400,000 sqft of covered lettable space across over 140 shop units, along with one of the main car parks in the town. Tenants include a number of well-known brands such as BHS, Boots, New Look, Poundland, The Body Shop, Waterstones, Poundworld and Santander.

Bury is a thriving town with a borough population of 186,000, located within the Greater Manchester conurbation, eight miles north of Manchester city centre. It is well connected to the motorway network as well as being on the direct Metrolink to and from Manchester.

InfraRed has been a long-standing investor in UK shopping centres having managed three specialist shopping centre funds between 1998 and 2006. In 2011 it re-entered the UK shopping centre market after an absence of five years, and has since acquired six shopping centres for a total consideration of over £350m, starting with The Galleries in Bristol, followed by Castle Mall in Norwich, St Johns and Clayton Square in Liverpool, Eastgate in Basildon earlier this year, and now Mill Gate. InfraRed invests heavily in its assets post acquisition. The combined capital expenditure budget across its six UK shopping centres exceeds £50m. Christopher Huxtable, Fund Manager at InfraRed, commented: “We are excited about this latest addition to our growing UK shopping centre portfolio.

This investment follows our strategy of acquiring dominant town centre assets, in top 100 UK retail destinations that benefit from a combination of high footfall, affordable rents and high potential for value addition. With an annual footfall of nearly 13m, the scheme dominates the town centre and provides the only covered retail environment in the vicinity. We will make further investment into the asset which will benefit tenants and customers at Mill Gate and indeed the town of Bury overall.” Peter Webb, Senior Investment Manager, Property at Aberdeen Asset Management, said:“We were keen to take advantage of a strong market and the sale allows the coinvesting Funds to follow individual mandates going forward".

InfraRed has appointed the Hark Group as asset managers and Munroe K Asset Management as property managers. Barker Proudlove, Lunson Mitchenall and Olswang provided occupier market advice, real estate advisory and legal services to InfraRed respectively. Cushman and Wakefield provided real estate advisory services to Aberdeen Asset Management. This transaction reflects the Partners’ appetite for good secondary assets, dominating the catchment of the town and drawing a strong footfall with wide potential for asset management opportunities.  Hark and InfraRed are to embark on a programme implementing a number of value-add initiatives.