Feb 7, 2023
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Frasers Group to make shopping centre investments - report

Feb 7, 2023

Ever-acquisitive Frasers Group is back in the news. This time its focus is on buying shopping centres rather than its appetite for individual retail brands.

Frasers Group has a vested interest in the success of urban shopping centres - Flannels Liverpool

Reports suggest the group is lining up to buy two urban shopping centres valued collectively at £100 million. It’s understood to be in advanced talks to buy The Mall in Luton and the Overgate centre in Dundee, valued at around £70 million and £30 million respectively, The Times first reported.

Sources suggest Frasers is in pole position to buy both assets, although valuations are an issue and it was uncertain the deals would be done. Frasers has so far declined to comment.

The Mall in Luton is being sold by the lender Wells Fargo, which has in effect taken control of the asset from its previous owner, the listed landlord Capital & Regional. Frasers operates its core retail brand Sports Direct store at the centre and reports say it’s planning to carve up the centre’s former Debenhams store into units for Frasers-owned chains, including its fast-expanding high-end brand Flannels and USC. 

Frasers’ interest in buying Dundee’s Overgate centre, first revealed by the trade publication React News, “would crystallise a big loss for Legal & General”, which paid Landsec £125 million for the city’s main shopping destination nine years ago. Sports Direct and USC also operate stores in the centre.

Last March, Frasers acquired Belfast’s Boucher Shopping Park for an undisclosed sum, adding to its interests in around 16 retail parks and shopping parades. At the time it said retail park purchases form a big part of its “wider elevation strategy”.

In 2021, it also purchased the Robin Retail Park in Wigan, showing its commitment to “elevating bricks and mortar retail” and planned to transform the park into "a modern, aspirational shopping destination”.

More recently, centre manager Mike Matthews told the local press plans are continuing to fill the former Debenhams store “with every available space on its ground floor will be taken up in the next 12 months”. He called 2023 a “massive year” for the centre.

The previous October, the group also purchased Berryden Retail Park in Aberdeen as a “stepping stone” to more property acquisitions within the UK and Ireland. It planned to transform its parks "into a modern, aspirational shopping destinations”.

Other retail parks owned by Frasers include those in Thurrock and Cheshunt, on the outskirts of the M25, and Cheetham Hill, near Manchester.

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