Investment manager pays £22m for Airedale shopping centre

AN international real estate investment manager has bought a 1960s shopping centre in West Yorkshire in the latest example of funds looking for good value assets outside of London’s overheated commercial property market.

LaSalle Investment Management paid £22m for the Airedale Centre in Keighley, representing a net initial yield of around 10 per cent.

The centre is home to retailers including Next, Boots, WH Smith, Argos, JD Sports, Poundland, Shoe Zone, Costa Coffee, O2, Burton and Thomas Cook.

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Gavin Ingram, associate director, said: “The Airedale Centre represents an opportunity to invest in a dominant shopping centre that encompasses the main retail pitch in the centre of the town.

“Competition is limited and the local catchment is very loyal. We are already in discussion with several retailers regarding new lettings within the scheme.”

The centre opened in 1968 and totals 184,000 sq ft. It has 84 retail units, a 460-space car park and is next to the bus station.

A spokeswoman for LaSalle Investment Management said Keighley’s Leeds City College campus, railway station and primary retail catchment area of 68,000 people made the centre an “attractive proposition”.

She added that the centre attracts 8.3m visitors a year.

In December, New River Retail, a listed real estate investment trust, joined up with the world’s biggest bond investor to buy a clutch of secondary UK shopping centres, including Prospect Shopping Centre in Hull and Promenades in Bridlington.

The joint venture with a subsidiary fund of Pimco acquired five centres from Zurich Assurance for £85m.

Tim Cameron-Jones, head of DTZ’s office in Leeds, said investment in central London real estate accounted for more than half of UK total volumes in 2012.

He told the Yorkshire Post: “The reality is that the UK investment market has become more London-centric. But a lot of the available stock has been absorbed in London.

“What we are seeing is both UK and international investors looking beyond London and the South East to pick up better value.

“There is less risk in secondary (property) than pricing suggests. That’s why people are seeing there’s some reasonably good value out in the regions.

“I suspect that’s why LaSalle picked up Airedale and why New River picked up its five shopping centres.”

Speaking in December, Allan Lockhart, property director at New River Retail, said: “There are a lot of people in London who think that everything north of Harrods is dead. But we just don’t take that view at all.”

LaSalle Investment Management is part of the Jones Lang LaSalle group. It bought Airedale from Royal Bank of Scotland.