Northern Assurance Building on the North side of Albert Square is one of four blocks sold to LJ Group
Northern Assurance Building on the North side of Albert Square is one of four blocks sold to LJ Group

Wrather sells Albert Square holdings for £16.3m

Bill Wrather’s property company Wrather & Co has sold a portfolio of four properties around Manchester’s Albert Square for £16.3m in an off market deal to London-based investor LJ Group.

The Victoria Building and Northern Assurance Building in Princess Street and the Lawrence Building and St Andrew’s Chambers in Mount Street total 70,000 sq ft, with 41,500 sq ft of offices across the four properties and a mix of retail and restaurant units on the ground floors.

The office acquisition is LJ Group’s first outside London. LJ Group is run by the Lawson Johnston family, heirs to Bovril and Marmite inventor John Lawson Johnston.

LJ Group said the buildings would be “refurbished into high quality office space with restaurants and shops on the ground floor and will incorporate co-working space for entrepreneurs”.

The portfolio has been owned and maintained by Wrather for the last 40 years.

In Victoria Building, occupiers include the Royal British Legion, Johnson Dry Cleaners and the Armenian Tavern. Northern Assurance houses Piccolino, J Wippell & Co and Haines Watts Accountants in the upper floors. Velvet Central, Bowlers and SCP Engineers are based in Lawrence Building, while Wrather & Co’s office and Modernet are based in St Andrew’s Chambers.

The LJ team responsible for the Manchester project is led by Sam Lawson Johnston, George Haddo and Lord Wei of Shoreditch.

Sam Lawson Johnston, director in LJ’s real estate division, said: “We are committed to the long term stewardship of these buildings and their renewal as prominent buildings in Manchester. Our whole approach is geared around the idea of creating a sense of community and advancing excellence in building utilisation, with a major focus on design quality, technology and the creative use of space. We were delighted to be offered the opportunity to acquire these historic buildings and look forward to securing their future as landmarks in the evolving northern powerhouse concept.”

Wrather was represented by Knight Frank’s Manchester office and Hill Dickinson solicitors. LJ Group was advised by JLL’s Manchester office and Charles Russell Speechlys Solicitors.

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