Axis Retail Partners, a retail investment advisory and asset management boutique founded in partnership with Generali, has agreed to buy St Georges Shopping Centre off market at a NIY of 8.3% from RDI REIT on behalf of pension fund clients of LaSalle Global Partner Solutions.
The shopping centre, in the thriving Greater London town of Harrow, was refurbished in 2015 and sits at the end of the bustling high street, with a 3-minute walk from Harrow on the Hill station and a 20-minute journey to Central London. St Georges has an annual footfall of c.9m customers who are attracted by the 215,000 sq.ft. of convenience and value retail, with leisure and F&B anchors across more than 30 units on two retail levels and three levels of parking above (>650 parking spaces).
Occupiers include TK Maxx, Boots, Deichmann, Wilkos, Nandos, Tortilla, Pizza Express and a state of the art 12-screen Vue cinema who have recently undertaken a full refit. The scheme is now fully let following several new lettings that have recently completed including H&M, Puttstars, Haute Dolce and Trespass, and holds a “Very Good” BREEAM In Use rating.
The rental levels at the centre have been rebased with 52% of retail income either renewing or reletting over the last 18 months, which provides a solid income base and NOI visibility. Sales are trending positively with some of the main tenants at or close to 2019 levels already. Axis will be driving the sales performance of the occupiers using their management expertise and applying their proprietary sales analytics tool ‘Origin’ for the benefit of LaSalle.
“We are very pleased with having been able to execute our first UK deal. We have been active in the UK market for almost 2 years and believe that now is the right time to start investing as the market starts to recover from COVID, which continues to be the ultimate stress test to the sector. We are focusing on assets which are relevant retail destinations and that have a demonstrated track record of strong performance, a rebased rental level and offer an attractive income yield to our clients. If all this verifies, we believe this entry point is extremely compelling with attractive capital values on a per square foot basis. From this starting point, we bring our retail expertise and proprietary systems to manage the assets with a view to enhancing the asset’s sustainability and relevance so that they can form an important part of the local community over the long term,” said Toby Smith (Axis Co-Founder and CIO).
“I have joined Axis at this exciting juncture as I am convinced we are at a turning point in the market which is shifting towards a Continental European model where relationships with our tenants will be more transparent and we will manage on the basis of the actual performance of retailers at our centres. Axis brings a long standing track record of managing with this philosophy and have the in-house tools to make the most of this for the benefit of our investor clients. I am excited to start managing St George´s which provides all the right fundamentals for us to deploy all our management expertise and energy on behalf of our client La Salle,” said Robert Jewell (Axis UK Managing Director).
Darren Robinson, Senior Fund Manager at LaSalle Global Partner Solutions commented: “St Georges Shopping Centre is performing well, benefiting from rebased rental levels and offering a very attractive entry yield. The high leisure and food and beverage components put the centre in a strong position to benefit from an increase in social activity over time, though of course we don’t expect that recovery to be linear in the very near term. We are very pleased to be working with the Axis Retail team again, having already worked with them prior to the formation of this new venture, and we look forward to working together in future.”