Forestside shopping centre bought by one of north's richest couples

A company ultimately owned by Michael Herbert (left) and Lesley Herbert (right) is the new owner of Forestside shopping centre in south Belfast (centre).
A company ultimately owned by Michael Herbert (left) and Lesley Herbert (right) is the new owner of Forestside shopping centre in south Belfast (centre).

SOUTH Belfast shopping complex Forestside has been sold to one of the north’s richest couples.

A new property vehicle ultimately controlled by Michael and Lesley Herbert has bought the popular retail park for a reported £42 million.

The pair are among the north’s biggest property owners and in 2020 sold their fast food empire of 146 KFC restaurants to Mohsin and Zuber Issa, who later led a takeover of Asda.

London-based private equity firm Kildare Partners bought both Forestside together with Derry shopping centre Foyleside for around £135m in late 2014.

Both were placed on the market earlier this year for £75m, with a guide price of around £37m for the Belfast asset.

Kildare European Partners, headed by ex-Sunderland owner Ellis Short, had controlled Forestside through Forestside Acquisitions Ltd.

According to Companies House, the company is now owned by Mussenden Properties Ltd.

Read more:

  • What do the new owners of Belfast's Forestside have in store?
  • Derry business family partner with Rushmere owners to buy Foyleside shopping centre
  • Forestside and Foyleside shopping centres put up for sale
  • Herberts sell fast food empire to Blackburn billionaires

Based at Aisling House on the Stranmillis Embankment, the base of the Herbert’s Belfast operations, Mussenden was set up as a property vehicle in May 2022 as a subsidiary of the Herbert’s main property company Kirk Bryson & Co.

Mr Herbert told the BBC he plans to develop a new 'food village' at Forestside, creating 100 permanent jobs.

He said planning permission is already in place, with discussions with operators at an advanced stage.

Mr Herbert also recently acquired Barry’s Amusements in Portrush.

The Irish News also understands a deal to buy Foyleside has now reached the 'sale agreed' stage.

Patrick and Edmund Simpson are believed to have agreed terms to buy the Derry shopping complex as part of a consortium including Ian McMahon.

The brothers, whose business interests include the Brunswick Moviebowl in Derry, and Belfast hotels Benedicts and The Landsdowne, are believed to have agreed a deal that will see Foyleside sold for below its £34.25 million guide price.

Foyleside Shopping Centre in Derry City.
Foyleside Shopping Centre in Derry City.

Foyleside comprises 364,637 sq ft of retail space with 53 units spread across four levels. At the time of putting the centre on the market, selling agent Savills said the scheme was 98 per cent let, with a footfall of 7.5 million in 2022.

The seven acre site in Derry City including parking for 1,520 vehicles.

Based on a 14 acre site on the outskirts of South Belfast, the 336,532 sq ft Forestside Shopping Centre comprises 35 retail units and parking for 1,335 vehicles.

Tenants include Marks & Spencer, Dunnes Stores, Sainsbury’s, Next, H&M, Boots, and Waterstones.

Savills said the centre is 100 per cent let, attracting 5.1 million visitors in 2022.