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Retail activity quarter one

Docks Bruxsel is about to be sold
Docks Bruxsel is about to be sold

Real estate advisor and retail expert Cushman & Wakefield has analysed the performance of the retail market in Belgium over the first quarter of this year. Occupier activity, it says, was subdued during the first quarter of 2018. Consumer confidence levels are high, underpinning the recovery of the economy overall, but sentiments are mixed because of relatively high vacancy levels. Investment volumes were boosted by the sales of several shopping centres.

Occupier activity was below average over Q1 2018 with 65,000 sq m of take-up registered. Demand is rather weak overall and there is especially vacancy in smaller towns and shopping galleries. This means that there are currently good
opportunities for expanding retailers on the Belgian market. Nespresso is coming with its Boutique concept to Leuven Diestsestraat 74 (215 sq m). Dutch shoe brand VanHaren continues to be one of the most active players: it took 624 sqm in Diestsestraat 133 Leuven as well as 597 sq m in Hoogstraat 18 Hasselt but they also leased in three out-oftown locations (Schoten, Genk and Dendermonde) over the quarter. Pharma player Medi-Market also continued its
expansion crossing over easily between out-of-town and shopping locations (Drogenbos, Ring Shopping Kortrijk, Les Bastions Tournai and Ville 2 Charleroi). Jack&Jones leased 231 sq m in Rue de Fer 83-85 Namur as well as in two Cora shoppings (Anderlecht and Châtelineau).

Where investment is concerned, Cushman calculates that a total of €943m was transacted in the retail market in Q1. This volume was boosted to an exceptional level because of the sales of two important shopping centres: the old but very
prime W Shopping Centre (Woluwe Brussels) and Rive Gauche in Charleroi which opened successfully last year with an impressive 8 million visitors during its first year. Both centres were acquired by international institutional investors.
A third large shopping centre transaction (Docks Bruxsel), to be acquired by a Canadian fund, is expected to be finalised in Q2. The vast majority of purchases in other asset classes are by local private players.
Tim Harrup
23-04-2018


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