IP Generation swoops on Gold Coast mall as shops make come back
Boutique fund manager IP Generation is taking a step up and buying a half stake in Westfield Helensvale for about $200m in another sign of healthy trading in the regional mall sector.
The industry has been rattled by the arrival of a new coronavirus variant but centres in many states are trading as normal or even ahead of 2019 levels. The share in the Gold Coast’s shopping centre was offered by the Queensland government’s fund manager QIC as it looks to diversify its exposures.
The deal on the centre, which was built in 2005 and hosts 6.3 million customers a year, comes after a run of activity including Perth’s Greenpool Capital teaming with investment firm Qualitas to acquire a half stake in the Gold Coast’s Runaway Bay Shopping Centre from the Perron Group for $128m.
Fawkner Property also picked up Stockland Cairns for $146m at book value and Vicinity Centres paid $358m for a half interest in Gold Coast factory outlet-style mall, Harbour Town.
The deal is the latest indicator of strengthening buyer demand for high-quality centres.
Scentre Group owns the other 50 per cent stake in Westfield Helensvale, along with the neighbouring site of the former NightQuarter markets, which is tipped to be the home of a new McDonald’s, 7-11 and KFC and another three blocks.
CBRE’s head of retail capital markets Simon Rooney is handling the sale but declined to comment, as did the parties.
The value and performance reset in the regional shopping centre sector this year has seen the best assets recording strong monthly turnover and traffic growth in addition to income steadying.
The centres are also compelling for investors, as they offer higher returns than areas like industrial property.
Westfield Helensvale is on an underused 17.27ha site, with about 44,800sq m of lettable space. Major national retailers Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, Kmart and Target account for 88 per cent of the total space.
IP Generation is looking to grow its $600m of assets and already has a mix of office, development and retail property.
It targets assets which have positive underlying fundamentals, together with unrealised performance potential which can be unlocked by repositioning, releasing, refurbishment or redevelopment, and driving performance via its intensive asset management.
IP Generation made its first foray into the retail property sector with the acquisition of the Coles and Woolworths-anchored Corio Village in late 2019. It then bought the Sunraysia region’s dominant subregional shopping centre, Mildura Central, in March.
It followed this with $300m portfolio of six supermarket anchored subregional centres in metropolitan and regional NSW which now form part of the IPG Essential Retail Trust.
The firm was founded by Chris Lock, who was co-founder and CEO of Impact Investment Group, and counts ARA Australia managing director David Blight as chair and former Scentre chief operating officer Greg Miles as a director.
QIC confirmed it was engaged in the planned divestment of its holding in Helensvale Shopping Centre but said as “this process is ongoing, we are unable to comment further”.
The sale is in line with the strategies for the QIC Property Fund, which is focused on broader retail anchored town centre masterplans.