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NewRiver snaps up Essex shopping centre for £20m

Leading property investor, asset manager and development firm, NewRiver has acquired Grays Shopping Centre in Essex for £20.2m.

The acquisition comprises a community shopping centre with 177,300 sq ft of retail space and a 32,000 sq ft office building with permitted development rights for residential conversion, on a 4.7 acre site located in the centre of Grays, Essex, with the City of London accessible by train in less than 35 minutes.

The acquisition price represents a net initial yield of 9.4% on the shopping centre element, and a capital value across the whole site of just £40 per sq ft.

The convenience-led, community shopping centre is anchored by value and grocery retailers including Wilko, Poundland, Iceland and Peacocks, and has a 700-space multi-storey car park. At acquisition, it has an affordable and therefore sustainable average rent of £9.62 per sq ft and a weighted average unexpired lease term of 4.6 years, which will facilitate asset management and risk-controlled development opportunities.

The site is adjacent to Grays railway station, which is used by four million passengers per annum and has seen passenger journeys increase by over 50% in the last 10 years. The station offers direct trains to London Fenchurch Street station in the City of London, making the town an increasingly popular place to live for commuters.

NewRiver has already identified a number of value creating opportunities at the asset, to meet demand for a budget hotel, budget gym and discount food retailer, and to deliver up to 300 much-needed residential units to support the town's growing population. These plans are in line with the Grays town centre framework, produced by Thurrock Council, and NewRiver will work closely with them in redeveloping the site, while continuing to receive an attractive income return throughout the planning stage.

Allan Lockhart, Chief Executive, commented, 'Grays Shopping Centre is a community asset with excellent asset management and development potential, acquired at a very attractive entry price, which is well below previously traded values and the residential residual value of the asset.

'The site is central to ambitious town centre redevelopment plans put forward by the local authority and we look forward to working closely with them to deliver the right mix of residential, retail and leisure for the local community, while providing attractive and sustainable returns for our shareholders.

'This strategic acquisition means that we have invested over £150 million so far in 2018 across our core sectors of community shopping centres, retail parks and community pubs, at an attractive blended initial yield of 12%, demonstrating our disciplined approach to capital allocation.'