Savills IM launches €425m UK retail park strategy

International real estate investment manager Savills Investment Management has launched a UK retail park strategy to capitalise on the strong income-producing characteristics of the sector, with a target capital raise of £360 mln (€425 mln).

The fund seeks to exploit the mismatch between the strong operating performance of the value sub-sector of UK retail parks and their relatively high yields compared to other sectors.

Falling retail property prices mean assets let to strong tenants can potentially be acquired at prices which reflect net operating income yields of 7-9%+.

Savills said that retail parks' attractions include low rents, low vacancy rates of close to 5%, strong tenants and high dependable income.

The fund will be managed by Harry de Ferry Foster, head of UK at Savills IM, who said: 'The UK retail sector has had a torrid time over the last five years, particularly the high street and shopping centre sub sectors.

'This new fund is targeting assets in a sub sector which has been overlooked and oversold, but has proven its resilience to the headwinds facing the sector. This is a good opportunity to secure assets with a high and secure income yield and we believe it will be very attractive to investors.'

The fund will seek to acquire retail park assets with relatively low rents, preferring food anchors and discount retailer tenants, such as B&M, Home Bargains Food Warehouse, but also bulky operators such as DIY.

This sub-sector has demonstrated resilience to the trend of online shopping, as sales largely consist of daily necessity and value-oriented items.

This part of the market has proven to be appealing to in-store shopping, with the high take up of click and collect and low unit prices of goods making online and home delivery less viable.

Straits Real Estate, the real estate investment subsidiary of Singapore's The Straits Trading Company (STC), and The Land Managers (TLM), the real estate investment division of the JL Family Office (JLFO), are cornerstone investors in the fund.

Added Andy Lim, group CEO of JLFO and founder of TLM: 'We are pleased to work with Savills IM in our first investment into the UK. The country is experiencing a rapid recovery and its growth is set to be the fastest in Europe.

'By investing in a defensive retail asset class, we hope to capitalise on the pent-up demand from the COVID-19 restrictions over the last couple of years.'