Leeds Building Society sells Hornsea Freeport to investor Kames Capital

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LEEDS Building Society’s unintended foray as a shopping centre owner has come to an end after it sold Hornsea Freeport for an undisclosed sum.

The mutual started marketing the outlet to turnaround investors in summer 2014 with a guide price of £4m to £5.5m.

Yesterday it confirmed the sale to Kames Capital, an Edinburgh-based investment manager with funds of £55bn under its control.

Leeds took ownership of Britain’s first factory shopping outlet centre via an administration process in 2010 after it fell victim to the downturn in consumer spending.

The building society had lent £16m to former owners Hornsea Estates and Hornsea Estates (No.2) in 2007. The centre was valued at £7m when Leeds acquired the asset.

Leeds said the outlet scheme has an annual footfall of just under one million and is occupied by a range of high street names including Clarks, Thorntons, The Works, Cotton Traders and Mountain Warehouse.

Karen Wint, chief operating officer, said: “Our primary aim when we took ownership of Hornsea in 2010 was to maintain the business as a going concern. Now is the right time to sell it to Kames Capital. We wish them well for the future.”

Leeds said Kames Capital purchased the Clacton Factory Outlet in 2012 and has achieved a successful turnaround strategy to introduce new retailers and invest in the scheme. It is currently developing a cinema and restaurant units.

Hornsea Freeport covers a 20-acre site and includes a lake and model village. Freeport bought the centre in 1994 from Peter Black, the Marks & Spencer supplier.