FOREIGN INVESTORS MAKE 'SEISMIC SHIFT' TO RETAIL

FOREIGN INVESTORS MAKE 'SEISMIC SHIFT' TO RETAIL
AN offshore buyer has snatched up 19th Hole Shopping Centre in Woodend, acquiring the 18,201sqm site for almost $18million.

The neighbourhood shopping centre was listed for sale for the first time in 50 years by Colliers International selling agents Tom Noonan and Tim McIntosh.  The pair fielded more than 150 enquiries from local, syndicate, institutional and off-shore buyers.

Located in Woodend, 70km north-west of the Melbourne CBD, 19th Hole Shopping Centre is a Coles-anchored neighbourhood shopping centre with 18 specialty tenants.

Leased at 100% and returning a net income of $1.48million, the centre was offered for sale via an expressions-of-interest campaign. The Coles anchor is expected to vacate at the conclusion of its lease in February 2019.

"19th Hole Shopping Centre was a complex transaction due to the imminent departure of the Coles anchor," says Noonan.

"As part of our strategy, we approached a number of supermarket operators prior to campaign launch and discussed the opportunity to backfill the Coles space.

"Integral to the successful sale was identifying the repositioning opportunity to prospective purchasers and providing upfront solutions to any immediate shortfalls, allowing buyers to refocus on price and terms."

The centre traded on an initial yield of 5.11% excluding the Coles income, further underpinning the strong appetite for Victorian retail investments and another example of a first-time retail acquisition by an off-shore buyer, from China.

"The campaign attracted an overwhelming amount of enquiry, with a growing number of local and off-shore privates looking to acquire shopping centre assets," says McIntosh.

"A lack of core stabilised assets coming on market is seeing an increased number of buyers move up the risk-curve, which in turn is seeing extremely strong results for assets such as 19th Hole Shopping Centre."

Noonan says 2016 had seen very few shopping centres transact in Victoria year-to-date.

"There is significant pent-up demand as traditional local investors are forced to compete with the growing off-shore presence in the retail market," he says.

"In recent times, off-shore investment has been extremely strong in residential and office markets but we are now seeing a seismic shift towards retail and anticipate the momentum to only grow further."

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