British Land banks on Crossrail in £142m Ealing buy


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The Independent Online

Property giant British Land took a £142.5 million bet on Crossrail today as it snapped up a major shopping centre in west London from its Dutch owner.

The Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre — home to a host of major retailers including Primark, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, River Island and H&M — is the biggest asset in a £183.8 million portfolio of London properties put up for sale last year by fund manager Wereldhave.

The centre — which attracts 15 million visitors a year and is in a wealthy catchment area of around 1.6 million people — has come up against competition recently from Westfield London in Shepherd’s Bush. But when Crossrail is completed in 2018, Ealing will be just 13 minutes from Heathrow, 19 minutes from Liverpool Street and 26 minutes from Canary Wharf. 

Jefferies analyst Mike Prew said: “Crossrail is going to completely reshape the residential and commercial demographic in London. East and west London are looking more interesting now.” British Land’s latest investment comes just a month after Ealing Council picked the UK’s biggest property firm Land Securities to build a £100 million “cinema quarter” in the borough.

Wereldhave bought Ealing in November 2011, and is taking a £13 million loss on the sale. The Dutch firm, whose boss resigned last year after a profit warning, is pulling out of UK property.

Ealing’s centre is almost 30 years old and British Land thinks the deal will unlock redevelopment potential and shift its retail portfolio to London and the South-East.

British Land retail head Charles Maudsley said: “We believe there are opportunities to develop the shopping centre as a retail destination both as we improve the retail mix and increase the leisure offer and as the area benefits from residential development and the completion of Crossrail.”

The portfolio also includes five retail and office properties in Baker Street, Chiswick High Road, Putney High Street, Fulham Road and Great Portland Street, bought for £41.3 million.