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Savills: Northern Ireland property investment market dominated by retail acquisitions in 2023

Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon was sold for £46.5 million in February 2023.
Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon was sold for £46.5 million in February 2023. Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon was sold for £46.5 million in February 2023.

INVESTMENT activity in the north’s commercial property market was dominated by deals for major retail assets during 2023, new analysis from Savills shows.

The property advisor has projected that total investment volume will pass £320 million in 2023, with deals for shopping centres accounting for at least half of that total.

The biggest retail deal of the year was the £46.5m purchase of Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon by Killahoey Limited, a deal led by DV8 founder Ian McMahon.

Two of the business figures involved in the Killahoey deal, Stuart Draffin and Donall McCann, were also involved in the £27m acquisition of Foyleside shopping centre in September 2023, a deal led by the Derry-based Patrick and Edmund Simpson.

It’s understood the Simpson’s were also connected to the February 2023 Rushmere deal.

Other major retail transactions in 2023 included the £42m sale of Forestside in Belfast to Michael and Lesley Herbert, and the £40.6m purchase of Abbey Retail Park in Newtownabbey by Californian investment trust Realty Income.

Read more:

  • Alterity Investments acquire three prominent listed buildings in Belfast city centre
  • Rushmere sold for £10m below asking price, with administrators partly blaming Liz Truss
  • Abbey Retail Park sold to Californian investment trust for £40m

The value of one of the north's biggest property deals of 2023 has not been disclosed.

The Vita Group sold its new student accommodation scheme on Belfast's Bruce Street in October along with two other student assets in Edinburgh and Warwick for £300m.

Savills said while the £320m projected total for 2023 is 9% down on what was invested in 2022, it’s well up on the five-year average of £264m.

"The resilience of Northern Ireland’s investment market in 2023 is a clear indicator of its underlying strength and adaptability,” said Ben Turtle, head of Savills Northern Ireland.

“Despite the challenges, we've seen sustained interest from local investors who recognise the unique opportunities our market offers, especially in the retail sector.

“Looking ahead, we anticipate a dynamic market in 2024, with a growing emphasis on sustainable and ESG-compliant properties."