Crown Estate sells Apsley Mills Retail Park

We have announced that we have agreed to sell the 98,000 sq ft Apsley Mills Retail Park to Royal London for £37m representing a yield of 5.35%.

10 October 2014

The sale represents the first time The Crown Estate has disposed of a directly owned asset of this sort as part of the management of our regional retail park portfolio.

Apsley Mills, located a mile south east of Hemel Hempstead, is a popular scheme for bulky goods retailers, with a range of occupiers including Homebase, Wren Living, Carpetright and Curry’s/PC World.

In recent years, we have invested substantially in the out of town retail sector, building up a portfolio which is the fifth largest of its kind in the UK.  Our focus for investment in the out of town retail sector is on dominant schemes of significant scale, where there are opportunities for asset management to improve returns. Recent examples of schemes purchased include Fosse Park in Leicester and the Coliseum in Cheshire Oaks, where we are investing £3m in improvements to the buildings and public areas.

Hannah Milne, Regional Portfolio Manager said: “Having rapidly become a UK leader in this sector, we’re now looking to improve the coherence and quality of our existing portfolio, focusing our investment on regionally dominant schemes which boast opportunities to drive returns through asset management activities.”

Drew Watkins, Senior Fund Manager for Royal London Asset Management said: “Apsley Mills is a prime south east retail park and a scarce product.  We are delighted to have been able to acquire this asset off-market and it is very much in line with the Fund’s strategy of purchasing quality assets with a good trading profile and growth potential.”

Dominant out of town retail schemes are one of The Crown Estate’s core areas for investment, alongside our ownerships in the West End (Regent Street and 50% of St James’s), strategic land opportunities on our rural estate and offshore wind. These sectors have been chosen as they are where the business has critical mass and expertise to drive returns.

We fund investment in our core sectors through the sale of assets considered to be non-core and through the formation of strategic partnerships, like the joint venture we have recently established with Gingko Tree for the purchase of Fosse Park. We currently manage over £1 billion of funds in joint ventures.

Apsley Mills built in 1993, was purchased by The Crown Estate in 2011.