New owners vow to develop Junction One and Outlet retail parks after £40m purchase

Junction One in Antrim is to be marketed as a value destination

THE new owners of two of Northern Ireland's best known retail parks have vowed to plough millions into their development in a bid to reinvigorate the sites.

Banbridge-based The Lotus Group and real-estate management firm Tristan Capital Partners have acquired Junction One in Antrim and The Outlet in Banbridge for £40 million.

And they have announced plans to differentiate the centres, positioning The Outlet as a premium destination and Junction One towards a value market.

The shopping destinations were sold as a package called Project Copeland and span 95 acres with almost 600,000 sq ft of space.

The new owners will progress moves to enhance The Outlet with an increased focus on leisure and food offerings.

Work has already started on the building of a new McDonald's restaurant on the site and the fit out of an eight-screen Omniplex cinema.

The complex was originally devised as a shopping centre but has adapted over recent years.

Alongside several cafes and restaurants, the park features shops including M&S, Next, Nike, DKNY, LK Bennett and Gap.

Junction One meanwhile is fully let and has shops including Lidl, Homebase and B&M Bargains.

Alastair Coulson, director of asset and property management at The Lotus Group said the acquisition "our confidence in the market in Northern Ireland".

"This is one of the largest retail deals to take place in the region this year and we are excited to play a central role," he said,

"Now that The OUTLET and Junction One are both under single ownership there is a significant opportunity for us to enhance and differentiate the sites. There will be a period of substantial investment to reinvigorate the schemes.

“We will be enhancing both destinations and providing additional and more diverse brands. Our strategy will direct The OUTLET towards a mid-premium market position and differentiate this from Junction One, with a mid-value convenience position within the market.”

Tristan Capital Partners managing director Peter Mather said the deal "represents a unique opportunity to bring together two outlet centres currently under separate ownership for the first time".

"Combined, these centres account for the vast majority of the outlet market in Northern Ireland, with both sites already housing a broad range of national and international occupiers, including strong anchor tenants.

"The next step will be to enhance, differentiate and diversify both sites by investing significantly and working with specialist asset management partners in Northern Ireland and London.”

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