Reconfigured stores boost rent at Norwich shopping centre

A retail landlord has achieved a six-fold increase in rental income after the reconfiguration of units at a Norfolk shopping centre. The project follows the application of a similar strategy at one of its other retail developments.

A large building at the Hall Road Retail Park, in Norwich, previously consisted of a single 7,432 sq m (80,000 sq ft) unit occupied by Homebase. After Homebase significantly reduced its rent via the use of a CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement) in 2018, property owner Schroder UK Real Estate Fund (SREF) decided to rethink the use of the building.

It more than halved the size of the Homebase store to 2,787 sq m (30,000 sq ft), and created three new units. Two of these – totalling 3,066 sq m (33,000 sq ft) – have been let, to Iceland Food Warehouse and Home Bargains, with the remaining 1,533 sq m (16,500 sq ft) still to be let. Other existing units at the centre, which is to the south of Norwich city centre, include Aldi and Pets at Home.

“By downsizing Homebase’s space at the retail park, we have created units to attract two new occupiers to the park, whilst retaining the Homebase brand on a new lease that is better aligned to their current requirements,” said SREF investment manager Tom Woolven.

“As landlords, we seek to take a proactive approach to review our assets and ensure they provide the accommodation that modern tenants need, thus keeping ahead of the curve to increase our rental income and ensuring we can continue to aim to deliver investor returns ahead of our benchmark,” added Woolven.

The alterations at Hall Road Retail Park follow a £3 million investment by SREF into the Meadows Retail Park in Chelmsford, which will see a former 2,299 sq m (24,750 sq ft) Argos store reconfigured into a leisure-focused offer with branches of PureGym, TGI Fridays and Cosy Club.

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