OakNorth completes £20.5m loan to support maiden shopping centre acquisition


shopping centre acquisition

OakNorth, the UK bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, has provided Axis Retail Partners – a leading advisory boutique specialising in European retail investments – with a £20.5M loan to support its maiden shopping centre acquisition.

Formed in 2018 following a partnership between Generali Investment Holding and entrepreneurs, Florencio Beccar and Toby Smith, the firm has an AUM of c.€525M and a strong industry reputation of managing retail assets across several geographies, risk spectrums and property sectors.

The capital will support the acquisition of St George’s Shopping Centre from RDI REIT, on behalf of three of LaSalle Global Partner Solutions’ pension fund clients.

The shopping centre, located on Harrow’s popular and affluent high-street, totals 215,000 sq. ft., including 32 retail units and 669 parking spaces, and has an annual footfall of c.9M customers.

Refurbished in 2015 and benefitting from excellent transport links by car, train and underground, St George’s focuses on offering shoppers convenience and value retail, with occupiers including household brands such as: TK Maxx, Boots, Wilkos, H&M, Nandos and Pizza Express, situated alongside a 12-screen Vue cinema.

Toby Smith, CIO of Axis Retail Partners, commented on the transaction:

“We are very pleased with having been able to execute our first UK deal.

We have been active in the UK market for almost two years and believe that now is the right time to start investing as the market starts to recover from Covid-19, which continues to be the ultimate stress test to the sector.

We are focusing on assets which are relevant retail destinations and that have a demonstrated track record of strong performance, a rebased rental level and offer an attractive income yield to our clients.

Given this was our first shopping centre acquisition, we were in need of not just bank, but a trusted lending partner who we could depend on to understand our business and structure a bespoke facility around our specific needs.

Eamonn and the team at OakNorth Bank did just that, completing the entire transaction in under three weeks since first contact.

They offered a level of flexibility we’ve not seen before from previous lenders, and we greatly appreciated the open and transparent nature of their approach, as well as the ability to talk directly to the decision makers.”

Eamonn O’Rourke, Director of Property Finance at OakNorth Bank, added:

“It’s impossible not to be impressed with Axis Retail Partners’ growth journey to date.

Over the past two decades, its team has been exposed to the growth and professionalisation of the real estate investment management industry, resulting in a client offer that combines specialist industry knowledge, cutting edge technology and outstanding quality of customer service.

As the retail sector continues to recover and re-open following the pandemic, we’re keen to do more to support businesses operating in this space, and we’re delighted to have been able to support such a well-renowned and established firm.

Given St George’s occupancy is currently full and is home to some of the biggest brands in the UK, we have no doubt this will be the first of many successful acquisitions for Axis and we look forward to watching their growth story going forward.”