Council buys local Waitrose store for £15m

Wokingham Borough Council has bought a local Waitrose store in Twyford, Berkshire in a deal worth around £15m.

The local authority has bought the supermarket site on a 20-year lease with 2% fixed annual increases for £14.87m.

Like many other councils, Wokingham has been building a property portfolio in recent years in order to provide alternative income streams in recent years.

Wokingham’s executive approved plans for a £100. property investment fund back in September 2017 and set up its own commercial property investment team last year.

According to the council, the aims of the fund are specifically to secure long-term investment income for the council which can then be used to fund essential services for local residents for years to come.

‘With ever increasing pressure on our budget it’s critical that Wokingham Borough Council looks for opportunities to become more commercially minded and find ways to make the money we do have work better for residents,’ said Cllr Stuart Munro, executive member for business and economic development.

‘Our growing investment portfolio is a key part of this approach and is proving to be a real success seeing excellent returns for our residents. In the last year we invested around £47m from which we are now generating an annual income of more than £2.6m.

‘That’s a fantastic return of over 5.5% on our investment, five times more than the 1% return we would get if we simply put this money in a bank,’ he added.

‘A key focus is to invest within the borough so an opportunity like this, right in Twyford town centre, fits perfectly with our strategy. Waitrose are a strong tenant and we are glad to have secured this site for our residents, community and long-term revenue.’

‘As a council we remain very careful in seeking out the right opportunities to grow our investment fund. We work closely with a strong professional team to ensure we balance risk and reward in keeping with our approved strategy. Making sure that our purchases are spread across a wide range of sectors and tenants so we don’t have all our eggs in one basket.’

James Cogavin, investment director at property agents Lunson Mitchenall, which acted for the council on the deal, added: ‘The asset sits on an important 2.6 acre site in Twyford, which gives the council regeneration options in the future.

‘The opening of Crossrail in Twyford will be a “game changer” for the town and it may open up the centre to interesting possibilities in the future for mixed use development.’

Click here to read the New Start feature – Are councils gambling on their future buying shopping centres?

Photo Credit – Waitrose Press Office

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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