French firm acquires prime Belfast retail property in £16.4m deal

French company Corum Asset Management has completed the off-market acquisition of 40-46 Donegall Place for £16.4 million
Gareth McKeown

A PRIME Belfast city centre retail property has been snapped up in a £16.4 million deal.

In what is the largest retail transaction in Northern Ireland so far this year, French company Corum Asset Management has completed the off-market acquisition of 40-46 Donegall Place.

Home to Northern Ireland’s flagship Next store and Dublin-based Eason, the building extends to 67,000 sq ft and the £16.4m deal equates to a net initial yield of 7.05 per cent.

Investment director at Corum, Philippe Cervesi said the group's first foray into the Northern Ireland market is part of ongoing plans for growth.

Launched in 2012, Corum has acquired over 101 properties in 12 European countries.

“We are actively looking for high quality investment opportunities in all commercial sectors, including alternative investments. The purchase of 40-46 Donegall Place is only our second in the UK and first in Northern Ireland, and we are committed to sourcing and acquiring other opportunities throughout the UK and Europe.”

Nicky Finnieston, investment director at Belfast-based Lisney ,which acted on behalf of Corum, added:

“We are delighted to have acquired one of Belfast’s best retail assets for Corum, in what was a quick and smooth transaction. From identifying and agreeing the deal Corum completed within one month. We look forward to working with them on other transactions as they expand in our market.”

The prime retail pitch in Belfast, which includes Donegall Place, has seen a real resurgence in recent years with vacancy rates reducing from 20 per cent in 2014 to 9.1 per cent - below the UK average for 2017. The completion of the new Ulster University Campus and the development of Royal Exchange is expected to further strengthen the prime retail core over the coming years.

The retail deal comes just days after the completion of one of the largest office transactions in the north. Earlier this week a lease was agreed, which will see various Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) departments and public sector bodies move into the refurbished Nine Lanyon Place. The deal will see the NICS occupy 150,000 sq ft of Grade A office space set over six floors.

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