The recently-formed VIA Outlets, created by a partnership between Hammerson, Value Retail, Meyer Bergman and APG, have acquired a new European portfolio of three outlet retail centers
VIA, which was formed in order to take advantage of the current growth in European outlet center shopping, has purchased the Freeport Portfolio of outlets from the Carlyle Group. The purchase includes Alcochete Outlets in Portugal, Excalibur Outlets in the Czech Republic and Kungsbacka Outlets in Sweden. All three outlet locations provided an initial yield of 8% and promise attractive prospects for future returns.
Upon its creation, the VIA group purchased Batavia Stad Outlets in Amsterdam and Fashion Arena Outlets in Prague. Hammerson is the majority partner in the VIA group, owning 47% of VIA Outlets and all newly acquired properties. Thus, it will contribute €57 million towards the purchase of the Freeport Portfolio. Since the creating of the VIA partnership, the group has invested over €300 million into acquisitions and owns 21,000 square meters of retail space. Of VIA’s investments to date, Hammerson has contributed €103 million.
The newly-acquired Alcochete Outlets are located near Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city. The center has over 170 shops spread throughout 55,700 square meters of retail space. Major shops in Alcochete include Burberry, Carolina Herrera, Diesel and Armani. It is the best performing outlet center in the area, and its 2014 sales density is forecasted to be nearly €3,000 per square meter. Alcochete makes up the lion’s share of the Freeport Portfolio’s purchase price and is expected to provide the greatest returns to VIA. At this time, the VIA group has plans to relocate and improve restaurant offerings in Alcochete and to add a new mix of up-and-coming international fashion brands to the retail offerings. They are particularly looking to increase Alcochete’s marketing to tourists, as Lisbon is popular with visitors from Spain, Germany, France and even South America.
The Kungsbacka outlets in Sweden are located about 20 minutes away from the country’s second largest city, Gothenburg. This area has Sweden’s second highest level of average income, and Kungsbacka uses brands like Hugo Boss and Nike to appeal to the area’s well-to-do shoppers. This outlet center incorporates over 16,000 square meters of retail space to appeal to its clients.
The final outlet center in the Freeport Portfolio, Excalibur Outlets, is located along the Austrian border in the Czech Republic. It contains 21,000 square meters of outlet space and is dominated by the athletic brands that appeal to the area’s shoppers.
VIA Outlets has set up an advisory board to guide the strategic direction for the project and to approve business plans for each of the three new outlet groups. The VIA group is confident that, with the leadership of the advisory board, this new venture will be an extremely profitable one.