Northern Ireland businesses have invested over £5m in new industrial and warehouse space in the first half of this year, according to a new survey.
The commercial property and real estate adviser, CBRE, claims that growing demand and the need to explore new national and international markets has forced companies into buying or leasing around 200,000sq ft of extra space this year alone.
“We really seem to be seeing a return to health on the industrial property front and the level of interest and demand in Northern Ireland properties has been significant,” said CBRE director David Wright.
“Inquiries from interested parties — as well as viewings — have increased noticeably and, more importantly, have translated into robust bidding from several parties looking for industrial and distribution space,” he added.
Two of the biggest deals so far this year both involved Lisburn-based companies. Specialist civil engineering service ABCO Marine has taken on an extra 23,000sq ft of factory space and postural aids company Leckey has expanded its Lisburn Greenwood Business Park premises.
Wright said the survey highlighted a transformation in business confidence in the last 18 months, pointing to an even stronger second half for the year, and perhaps a return to speculative development across the Province.
In the latest sign of buoyancy returning to Northern Ireland’s economy, the “resurgence” has continued into the commercial property market, the report says, with more than £143.7m invested between January and June and American investors showing an ever increasing presence.
The bulk of the deals were concentrated in the retail sector. Among them the sale of Shane Retail Park by Corbo Properties for £30m to US investor Marathon. The same investor also bought Cityside Retail Park for £24m and the Obel office and apartment development (pictured, right) for more than £20m.
There was more evidence of CBRE’s confidence last week when 700 UK and Irish bidders were joined by remote buyers from as far away as Hong Kong and Dubai for a Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) auction of 78 commercial and domestic properties.
Of the 78 properties on offer, only two lots remained unsold and the total estimated reserve on all the properties of £3.2m was exceeded by £1.8m. The combined hammer prices totalled £5.04m.
“The level of bidding activity shown at this auction is an indicator that developers are willing to invest in Northern Irish property again, particularly given that these properties all require considerable development,” commented LSH surveyor, Daphne Mahon.
“It was the busiest auction that we have seen for years and the performance as a whole was backed up by some very exciting lots with heated bidding throughout the day,” she added. “We were delighted to surpass the maximum reserve by 57 per cent.”
Two examples of the development interest were a former police station in Keady, with a reserve of £95,000 and which sold for £230,000, and an 11-bedroom guesthouse in Fermanagh which surpassed its £195,000 reserve to sell at £311,000.
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