Blackrock garden centre deal brings in high yield

The "biggest garden centre deal in years" could ultimately lead to the garden centre being able to expand.

Garden centre property specialist Gilbert Evans advised BlackRock Real Estate on its purchase this week of a portfolio of eight garden centres within The BlackRock UK Long Lease Property Fund from LaSalle Investment Management for £112.5m – reflecting a net initial yield of 5.25 per cent. HW first reported on the deal in August.

The Ferndown Portfolio spans 91.3 acres, with locations in Bicester, Cadbury, Endsleigh, Cardiff and Woodford. It comprises six sites let to Wyevale Garden Centres and two additional sites occupied by Notcutts (Woodford) and Squires Garden Centres (Stanmore). The portfolio provides an average unexpired lease term of 29 years. Rent reviews are either RPI-linked or fixed uplifts.

Mike Gilbert, agency partner at Gilbert Evans, said: "The deal reflects the strength of the increasingly attractive garden centre sector.  The portfolio represents some of the best garden centres in the UK."

Geoffrey Shaw, portfolio manager of the BlackRock UK Long Lease Fund said:  "The garden centre market is unique and purchase opportunities come around very rarely. The portfolio is well-placed to take advantage of future demographic shifts and this high quality set of assets will deliver strong index-linked income streams for the fund’s investors."

Gilbert added: "It's relevant to groups and large independents and could give them a means of financing expansion from a sale leaseback proposition. There's a strong investment market which reflects the yield that's been achieved."

He said garden centres are trading well and are turning down attractive offers to sell up. He said demand is high for good quality centres with four or five offering on each.

Gilbert said there are few new builds happening as costs are not attractive to developers, but with the Blackrock deal, that could make the build costs work better.

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