EUROPEAN DESIGNER OUTLETS ATTRACT INVESTOR ATTENTION AS YIELDS SHARPEN
Investor interest has intensified as top end designer outlets compete with ‘full price’ shopping centres, with the yield gap closing rapidly, reports leading real estate advisor, CBRE.
Over the last 24 months, yield spreads between outlets and ‘full price’ shopping centres have narrowed significantly, from around 2% to less than 1% today, as investors interest moves strongly into what has in the past been a niche sub-sector.
Historically in Europe, outlets have been viewed as riskier than shopping centres, due to the turnover rent structure of the leases. Despite the attractive yield premium that this has offered, investor interest has been mostly limited to sector specialists.
European outlets differ from much of the continent’s regular shopping centre stock in that they operate almost exclusively on the turnover rent model. However much of their success can in fact be put down to this attribute. It is prized by knowledgeable landlords and tenants, who can both rely on these agreements to mitigate the risk of trading downturns while also sharing in the success.
We have seen a strong shift in recent quarters though, as general retail property investors realise the ability of outlets to perform almost counter cyclically; they tend to do well alongside the rest of the market during good times but offer defensive qualities when economies are not so buoyant. Outlets are also more resilient to e-commerce than a conventional shopping centre due to their more focussed shopper appeal.
There is also a demand-supply imbalance, where for much of Europe planning restrictions limit the construction of new centres. There are only roughly 170 operating outlets in Europe at present, so between the narrow development pipeline and the very limited trading of stabilised centres, when they do come to the market competition has become fierce. So much so that, if one of the Europe’s super-prime outlets were offered for sale today, we could conceivably see the outlet to shopping centre yield spread narrow to almost zero.