Green Property plans €1bn sale of Blanchardstown Centre

Ireland’s biggest retail complex expected to attract global interest

The Blanchardstown Centre counts Penneys, Dunnes and Marks & Spencer among its retail offerings. Photograph: Paul Sherwood

The Blanchardstown Centre counts Penneys, Dunnes and Marks & Spencer among its retail offerings. Photograph: Paul Sherwood

 

The Blanchardstown Centre in west Dublin, Ireland’s biggest retail complex, will be put up for sale next month by its owner, Green Property Group.

It is understood that the company will seek about €1 billion for an asset that is likely to attract the attention of large international investment groups, big pension funds and sovereign wealth funds.

It is being marketed by joint agents JLL and Eastdil Secured with first round bids expected in mid-March.

The centre has an annual footfall of 16 million people and achieves a rent roll of just under €50 million each year.

Situated on 85 acres, the complex has 176 shops, including 20 restaurants and food outlets, two retail parks and a multiplex cinema. It comprises 1.2 million sq ft of space and has four anchor tenants - Debenhams, Dunnes Stores, Marks & Spencer and Penneys.

Debenhams is believed to be paying an annual rent of €2.4 million, Penneys is paying €2.3 million and M&S €1.7 million. Dunnes owns its own outlet.

Ebay, the US e-commerce giant, also rents office space in the complex at an annual cost of about €900,000.

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Situated close to the M50 motorway, the complex has 6,000 car park spaces and is served by 600 buses daily.

Development capacity

A major selling point for the centre is the fact that there is development capacity for another 1.6 million sq ft of retail, office, leisure and 600 apartments under a master plan for the site.

Planning consent for a 272,000 sq ft extension to the main centre and underground car parking has already been granted.

Another attraction is the fact that a series of rent reviews are due to take place in October.

Green began the construction of the Blanchardstown centre in 1996 on a greenfield site, developing the complex over a number of years into a major town centre while also selling off some offices (the Liberty Insurance building), apartments and a hotel .

The centre was described as a “unique asset” by Stephen Vernon, Green Property’s chairman and a leading figure in the development of the complex.

“I believe now is the optimal time to transition to new ownership to take advantage of its development potential and capitalise on the recovery phase of the consumer cycle,” Mr Vernon said.

“A fundamentally-strong economic backdrop, compelling development potential and the inherent strengths of this asset present significant opportunity for the new owners of this great centre.”

It is understood that Mr Vernon owns more than 60 per cent of the company behind the centre, with fellow directors Jim McKenna, Mark Munro and Paul Culhane also being significant shareholders.

‘Exciting time’

John Moran of JLL, the joint selling agent, said it was an “exciting time” to bring the asset to market given that the Irish retail industry has rebounded amid a strong recovery in the domestic economy.

“There has been a wave of international, institutional capital chasing the very best of Irish real estate, with established players such as Hammerson, Allianz, Hines, Starwood Reit and a number of the German funds, Union, Real IS and Deka making significant investments in the past 12 months,” he said.

“We expect strong international interest in the development which offers potential for both rental growth and development opportunity.”

As a separate entity to Green Property Group, Green Reit plc, which is also led by Mr Vernon, is unaffected by the sale of the Blanchardstown asset. Green Property Group has assets under management of more than 3.5 million sq ft.