Industrial investor, Centurion Properties, has taken control of a leading Midlands business park. It paid £25m to buy the 33-acre complex near Burton from its original joint venture development partner TH Real Estate.
Both partners originally acquired Bretby Business Park — between Burton-upon-Trent and Ashby-de-la-Zouch — for £7 million in 2005. At the time nearly a third of the site was vacant and many tenants were operating on licence agreements.
Since then the joint venture has invested heavily in the regeneration and development of the park, reducing the vacancy rate from 30 per cent to just under seven per cent and attracting more than 60 businesses and 2,000 workers to the site. Rental income from Bretby Park has increased by 600 per cent in a decade.
Advised by Jones Lang LaSalle, Centurion part financed the purchase with a senior debt facility from the European financial asset specialist, AgFe, and a mezzanine facility from investment manager ICG-Longb.
“Our partnership with TH Real Estate has been a great success,” explained Centurion chief executive officer Julian Rooth, who founded the company in 2000.
“The acquisition of Bretby marks a significant step in Centurion’s evolution. It will provide strong, sustainable cash flow, which will underpin Centurion’s growth,” he added. “We are also confident that there are further opportunities to enhance the rental income over the next few years.”
His company’s acquisition of Bretby Business Park — which contains 320,000 sq ft of office, laboratory, industrial and warehouse space — follows the February appointment of Richard Cotton as chairman to further drive its growth plans.
Centurion’s focus has so far been on the industrial sector, where, together with financial partners such as Scottish Widows Investment, it has assembled a property portfolio worth around £300m.
Its industrial holdings include the Gaston Wood Estate, near Basingstoke; St Martins Business Centre, Bedford; Lawnhurst Trading Estate, Cheadle, and Portland Close Industrial Estate at Houghton Regis. Bretby Park is its first office asset.
In a recent statement, it admitted: “The significant yield shift that has occurred in this sector in recent years has prompted the company to adapt its strategy and it is now looking to broaden its activities into other sectors, in addition to industrial.”