B&M Retail buys The Vault/Interserve leases Pioneer Point

Michael Hunt

Deals on the two industrial facilities in south Liverpool and Ellesmere Port have been secured this month.

As expected, Lancashire-based discount specialist B&M Retail has now bought the 611,000 sq ft distribution centre, The Vault, on Liverpool International Business Park.

The premises were originally developed by Gladman and are now owned by Rockpoint.

B&M Retail trades as B&M Bargains and sells both non-food and groceries from 100 stores. The deal is expected to create hundreds of jobs, with estimations recently reported that the number of new posts could reach 600.

Although the sale price was undisclosed, B&M Retail is rumoured to be paying a heavily discounted rate of £24/sq ft to acquire the freehold of the south Liverpool unit, reflecting the low prices in the current buyers' market for industrial space. Landlords are doubly keen to dispose of units as the empty rates liability incurs cost on top of the usual debt.

B&M was founded in the 1970s and acquired by brothers Simon and Bobby Arora in 2005, when it had 21 stores. Today the group is expanding rapidly as it buys former Woolworths and Tradex stores.

The Vault is next to Bertelsmann's 500,000 sq ft printing plant off Speke Boulevard and near Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

Meanwhile, the 240,000 sq ft Pioneer Point development in Ellesmere Port, Wirral, has been let to Interserve, a leading facilities services provider.

Rosemound Developments, with funding by Royal London Asset Management, completed Pioneer Point at Ellesmere Port in 2005. Details of the rental costs were undisclosed.

Howard George, senior director of industrial agency at CB Richard Ellis North West, which acted as joint agents on both deals, said: "We are thrilled to have secured the disposal of The Vault which is one of the largest ever speculative warehouse units to be built in the region. The sale, along with that of Chill Out in St Helens, comes on the back of a number of sizeable lettings, including Pioneer Point, that have been secured this year despite the challenging market conditions. It's great news for Merseyside to attract three new major occupiers to the region who will all be investing heavily in the region.

"Our figures suggest that take up has reached 2m sq ft across the North West so far this year and we are confident that with a further 1m sq ft under negotiation we will see annual take up figures pass the 3m sq ft mark which will be way above average figures for region."

As reported on Place earlier this week, the large scale distributor of household and DIY products, 151 Products, had bought the 178,000 sq ft distribution facility, The Chill Out, in St Helens for an undisclosed sum.

CB Richard Ellis acted as joint agents on all three deals. The team worked with M3 on The Vault, M3 and Lamonts for Pioneer Point and King Sturge were the joint agent for The Chill Out.

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