Hammerson and APG take full control of Via Outlets
Hammerson and APG, the two main partners in premium outlet malls operator Via Outlets, said Tuesday that they've added to their stakes in the company to take full control. But while those stake increases are relatively small overall, the move reflects the importance of the outlets sector and how mall specialists see them as the way forward.
In fact, David Atkins, CEO of Hammerson, said of the deal: “Our investment in Via Outlets is a major differentiator for Hammerson as this is a sector which continues to deliver value creation, as well as significant growth in brand sales and footfall. The management team has a clear strategy to attract new brands and deliver further extensions which will capitalise on the increased spending we are seeing in the market, and the low online penetration in this sector. This transaction also streamlines the ownership structure and enhances the governance of this strategically important business unit.”
So what are the actual details? Hammerson and APG have each increased their ownership in the business by over 3% (6.25% combined), and now each own a 50% stake in the €1.6 billion business. Their former operating partners were Value Retail and Meyer Bergman. The companies bought their extra stakes in the fast-growing firm for €32 million each.
The purchase comes after a new management structure was introduced, led by CEO Otto Ambagtsheer, formerly the COO of Via Outlets.
The investment certainly looks to be a sensible one for the owners. In 2018 Via delivered a strong trading performance across its 11 centres with brand sales up 9% to €1.07 billion and a 4% footfall increase on the previous year to welcome over 30 million visitors. And on Tuesday it said that “these key operating metrics have continued to strengthen in 2019, with brand sales up 10% on the previous period to the end of June with key marketing initiatives driving footfall growth of 8%.”
Ambagtsheer also said: “APG and Hammerson have long-standing interests in the premium outlet sector and their additional investment enables us to turn Via Outlets into a self-managed and independent operating organisation. This will ensure the outstanding performance is maintained, enabling us to continue to substantially outperform the wider retail market.”
Via was established in 2014 to acquire and manage existing outlet centres across Europe. It has since grown its portfolio to 11 centres in nine European countries in leading tourist locations, making it the fastest growing owner of outlets in Europe and the third-largest in terms of its portfolio. Four of its malls have seen major remodelling works in the last three years and each of them has seen double-digit brand sales growth.
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