Tristan Capital Partners and The Lotus Group recently acquired two of Northern Ireland’s largest outlet parks in an investment deal that sees The OUTLET and Junction One under the same ownership. The new owners have recognised a gap in the market and will be investing more than £40m (€55m) into the schemes to ensure that their plans to enhance, differentiate and diversify each of these sites are successful.
The acquisition of both retail parks demonstrates their confidence in the Northern Ireland market. The OUTLET and Junction One cover a combined total of 95 acres of land and offer 55,466m² (597,035ft²) of prime retail and leisure property. The purchase will also see a €3.5m (£3m) investment being made to revitalise The OUTLET to a premium outlet centre.
The OUTLET comprises 18,985m² (204,354ft²) and has already attracted and secured a selection of leading international brands, as part of the takeover. Tristan Capital Partners and The Lotus Group are re-focusing the tenant mix and investing in the creation of a new Food and Film Quarter. This includes Banbridge’s first ever state-of-the-art, eight-screen Omniplex cinema. Recently opened, the cinema features an acclaimed OmniplexMAXX screen, which has the best technical specification in the whole of Ireland, alongside a significant food and beverage offering to create a thriving night time economy. It’s already proving to be a successful footfall driver for the centre.
At the same time, a sharp fall in the sterling-euro exchange rate after the Brexit vote has acted as a magnet for shoppers from the Republic of Ireland. The OUTLET has seen a double-digit upturn in both footfall and turnover this summer, with cross-border spending a key engine of growth.
Junction One will also be re-developed from an outlet centre into a mid-value shopping and leisure destination, securing its status as the largest value shopping and leisure park in Northern Ireland. Based in Antrim, it houses 36,481m² (392, 682ft²) of shopping and leisure space and is occupied by well-known brands including LIDL, Homebase, BM Bargains and Omniplex. There will be a change in infrastructure to create a sense of arrival and upgrade the environment and shopping experience. Landscaping is an integral component of the redevelopment to fill Junction One with lush greenery and leisure space.
Alastair Coulson, director at The Lotus Group said, “The chance to acquire both schemes was an unmissable opportunity for us in Northern Ireland. Now that The OUTLET and Junction One are under single ownership we can enhance and importantly differentiate the sites and make them both successful in their own right.
Our strategy will direct The OUTLET towards a mid-premium outlet model and differentiate this from Junction One, which will offer a mid-value convenience and leisure position within the market”, he continued. “Brexit also dramatically increases our potential market share at Antrim and Banbridge as Republic of Ireland shoppers cross the border in search of a bargain.”
To help drive the projects forward, Tristan Capital Partners and The Lotus Group have also teamed up with outlet experts Rioja Developments.