Assets News

InfraRed/Hark buy Preston mall

InfraRed Capital Partners, on behalf of its Active Fund III, and asset manager Hark Group have exchanged contracts to buy St Georges Shopping Centre, Preston, Lancashire from Aviva.

St Georges is a 257,653 sq ft shopping centre of masonry construction built circa 1964 and refurbished in 1999. The property is located within the centre of Preston with its primary frontage on the pedestrianised Friargate.

The centre comprises over 280,000 sq ft of retail with more than 100 shops and is accompanied by one of the city's main car parks. Tenants include well-known brands such as M&S, River Island, H&M, New Look, WHSmith, The Body Shop, Poundland and Holland & Barratt.

InfraRed is 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 seven in-town shopping centres totalling over 2.7bn sq ft of retail space, occupied by more than 600 tenants, for a total consideration of circa £450m. These are The Galleries in Bristol, Castle Mall in Norwich, St Johns and Clayton Square in Liverpool, Eastgate in Basildon, Mill Gate in Bury and now St Georges. InfraRed invests heavily in its assets post acquisition.

Chris Huxtable, Head of European Real Estate at InfraRed Capital Partners, said: "We are delighted to be adding St. Georges to our portfolio, the seventh centre we have acquired since re-entering the shopping centre market in 2011 and the third for our Active Fund III. St Georges is the dominant centre in the city of Preston, a Top 50 UK retail destination, where it attracts both top quality retailers and high annual footfall. We will be investing further in the centre, helping to make it an attractive place to shop, work and do business which will create the opportunity to bring new retailers to the heart of the city, benefitting tenants, customers and the city centre as a whole."

Charlie Barke, Head of Shopping Centre Investment at Cushman & Wakefield who acted for InfraRed, said: "We were delighted to secure the purchase of this prime asset for our client InfraRed. Whilst the market saw a number of sales offered towards the end of last year, very few had the qualities of being dominant centres in top 50 cities. We see continuing strength in the prime markets this year."

InfraRed has appointed the Hark Group as asset managers and Munroe K Asset Management as property managers. Barker Proudlove, Cushman & Wakefield and Olswang provided occupier market advice, occupier market advice and real estate advisory services, and legal services to InfraRed respectively. Lunson Mitchenall provided real estate advisory services to Aviva.

Paul Norman

CoStar UK