Showgrounds Retail Park in Omagh sold to US investment group for £16.5 million

The Showgrounds Retail Park in Omagh, which has been acquired by Columbia Threadneedle for £16.5 million. Image: Google

THE Showgrounds Retail Park in Omagh has been sold to a Boston based investment group for £16.5 million.

Columbia Threadneedle acquired the 90,000 sq ft asset in an off-market deal in October 2021, but the details have only just emerged.

Developed in 2002, the retail park was last sold by the Ballymena-based Corbo group in 2015 to Tristan Capital Partners and Pradera for £26.7m.

The site, which is home to Marks & Spencer, Argos, Next, River Island and Sports Direct had not been listed for sale on the open market.

It’s understood the deal was completed quietly with the retail park packaged into a wider portfolio of UK retail assets sold by Tristan Capital.

Tristan is involved in a number of well-known shopping centres around the north, including Erneside in Enniskillen. But there are no reports of any other local retail parks being included in the deal.

Although headquartered in Boston, USA, the new owners of the Showgrounds have an extensive UK investment portfolio, albeit largely confined to Britain.

According to its website, Columbia Threadneedle employ around 2,500 people and currently manage around £557 billion in investment assets across 19 countries.

It’s thought to owns a number of office buildings in Northern Ireland.

The investment firm is ultimately owned by the New York Stock Exchange listed Ameriprise Financial, which is headquartered in Minneapolis.

The details of the asset manager’s acquisition only emerged following an extensive trawl of commercial property deals done in the north during the fourth quarter by researchers at Lambert Smith Hampton.

It’s one of four major retail deals to feature in the commercial real estate consultancy’s 2021 Investment Transactions Bulletin, which chronicles market activity throughout last year.

The Lambert Smith Hampton report said £316.6m of commercial property deals were done in 2021, the highest since 2017, largely down to the £87m purchase of Merchant Square in Belfast city centre by Albilad Capital of Saudi Arabia, Northern Ireland’s largest ever office deal.

Lambert Smith Hampton said the 44 transactions it recorded in 2021 was treble the volume from 2020.

Jonathan Martin from the firm’s Belfast team, said: “The record breaking sale of Merchant Square was the year’s highlight and is a strong market indicator of the confidence investors have in Northern Ireland as a region.

“There is reason to be optimistic that 2022 volumes will be robust, with in excess of £50m of deals expected to complete in Q1 2022.

“Current market trends are set to continue into 2022 and we expect investor appetite to remain strong for properties across all sectors.”

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