Center Parcs on verge of £350m retail park portfolio purchase

Hammerson is close to selling its retail park portfolio as part of its strategy to shore up its balance sheet.

The European retail property group has confirmed this morning that it is “in discussions on terms of a possible disposal” of its seven retail parks to Brookfield.

The statement follows a Sunday Times report that Canadian private equity firm Brookfield had agreed to pay £350m for the portfolio.

Brookfield owns Center Parcs and the Canary Wharf Estate in London as part of its global property portfolio.

The Hammerson sites include Ravenhead Retail Park in St Helens, Telford Forge Shopping Park in Telford and Elliott’s Field Shopping Park in Rugby. Hammerson also owns retail parks in Falkirk, Middlesbrough, Merthyr Tydfil and Didcot.

Hammerson said: “The company continues to make asset disposals in liquid markets to further strengthen the balance sheet, with gross proceeds of £73m achieved to date in 2021.”

Bricks-and-mortar retail has been among the hardest hit during the pandemic with lockdowns accelerating closure programmes, stifling new openings, and reducing rent payments.

Hammerson saw its rental income fall by more than 40% in 2020, a year which it said ““has resulted in the largest fall in net rental income and UK asset values in the Group’s history”.

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