Mar 28, 2023
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Landsec takes full control of St David’s mall, buys adjacent ex-Debenhams space too

Mar 28, 2023

Landsec now owns all of the successful St David's shopping centre in Cardiff, as part of the commercial property giant’s bid to build on “operational and strategic momentum”.

Zara's new concept flagship in St David's Cardiff

And as an added bonus to the buy, Landsec also said it has acquired the adjacent vacant Debenhams store for a “minimal sum” in a separate transaction.

It said Tuesday it has purchased all of the debt secured against the 50% share of the St David’s asset previously owned by the failed Intu business. Comprising separate transactions with two debt holders, the overall purchase price represents “a meaningful discount” to the £113 million September 2022 book value of Landsec's existing 50% share of the centre, it said.

Taking up the other half St David's makes good sense. Business at the popular shopping centre has been strong, benefiting from brands' ongoing ‘flight to prime’, it noted. 

Since March 2022, 36 leases have been signed or are in solicitors’ hands. And in the last 18 months, several brands have relocated to St David's from elsewhere in the city, agreed to open new stores, new concepts, or upsized their existing stores, including Zara, Footasylum and The Fragrance Shop. 

“As a result, occupancy increased from 88.1% in March 2021 to 93.1% at the start of this year, with retail sales for the financial year to date 15% above the prior year and in-line with pre-pandemic levels”, Landsec said.

It also said the St David’s former Debenhams buy “unlocks the opportunity to deliver its future vision for the centre, further enhancing its attraction for brands and visitors”. 

This will see the introduction of new public spaces, elevated F&B/leisure concepts and a refreshed brand mix, “and is expected to deliver a high single digit income return on incremental capex”.

Bruce Findlay, Managing Director, Retail at Landsec, said: “Acquiring this final stake in St David’s is testament to our ability to unlock complex opportunities and enables us to take forward our placemaking plans for what is the dominant retail destination in Wales. With annual footfall of 27 million, it also has the necessary attributes of what we see as a shopping centre of the future.

“It’s clear that the flight to prime isn’t slowing and we’re investing at a time where values are at a level that makes this transaction very attractive.”

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