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NI shopping centre bought for under £17m by Cork businessman

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The £20m investment in the phase five development at The Quays Shopping Centre in Newry was completed in 2018

Cork businessman Tom Coughlan’s Urban Green Private (UGP) has swooped on a deal to buy the Quays Shopping Centre in Newry.

The sale is understood to be for under €20m (£17m) after a deal was struck with receivers who took control of the 375,000 sq ft development in 2022.

The acquisition marks a significant development for UGP which bought the suburban Douglas Village Shopping Centre in Cork last year for €23m (£20m).

It also owns Castletroy Shopping Centre in Limerick, the Town Centre in Shannon and the large Bridgwater Shopping Centre in Arklow, Co Wicklow.

It is believed that UGP sees Newry, is a key centre in the emerging Dublin-Belfast economic corridor, lying roughly 100km north of one and 60 km south of the other.

The Quays is around the same size as Bridgwater in Arklow and is located close to the border, allowing it to benefit at times from significant demand from the Republic for some UK brands as well as when sterling weakens .

Retail giant Sainsbury’s is the anchor tenant at the Quays, with Marks & Spencer, Ominiplex Cinemas, Superdry and Waterstones among the mix of shops.

The Quays was originally owned by businessman Gerard O’Hare’s Parker Green International, who developed with loans backed by Anglo Irish Bank.

It has been through a number of hands since the financial crisis, before most recent owner Garrison Earlsfort lost control when Andrew Dolliver and Luke Charleton of EY were appointed as joint receivers.

Mr O’Hare left the business in 2018 part of an agreement with the company’s funders, concluding just weeks after the Quays had unveiled a £20m extension anchored by Marks & Spencer.

The sale of other major shopping centres in Northern Ireland buoyed up the commercial property market during 2023.

The largest deal of 2023 was the purchase of Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon for £46.5m by Killahoey Limited.

Other substantial deals included the acquisition of Forestside Shopping Centre in Belfast for £42m by Mussenden Properties Limited, a company owned by Michael Herbert, and Foyleside Shopping Centre in Derry, which was purchased by a consortium of Northern Irish investors for £27m.

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