April 2016 news archive

IM Properties sets post-recession record for Luton

One of the UK’s biggest privately-owned property firms has completed the largest office letting in the Luton area since 2008.

IM Properties (IMP) has signed a deal with Randstad, which will see the global employment agency take almost 30,000 sq ft of Grade A space at Building 450, on the Capability Green scheme, on the outskirts of Luton.

Randstad will move its UK headquarters from the centre of the town, once a £1.5m refurb of the three-storey building is complete and its own fit-out has been finished, which is expected to be in early July.

IMP, which has £900m of assets owned and under management in the UK, Europe and the United States, bought the scheme in 2008.

Its surveyor, David Cook, says Randstad has taken a seven-year lease, and the letting to such a significant occupier justifies the strategic decision to invest heavily in a quality refurbishment throughout the building:

“We bought three buildings here in 2008, and over the past eight years have invested over £3.5m into improving the real estate, attracting Lumesse and Oracle along the way. We’re always looking to add value to our real estate portfolio, and I believe the latest letting to Randstad underlines the merit of that approach.

”We identified significant pent-up demand in the Luton market for Grade A space, securing 11,000 sq ft to Oracle, and now 30,000 sq ft with this deal, and we think there’s more to come. Randstad have taken sufficient space to allow for expansion, which is a sign of their confidence in the area’s economy.”

London-based Trilogie Corporate Estate acted for Randstad. IMP’s agents at Capability Green are Savills and RARE.

Guy Parkes, Director at RARE is a specialist in the South East market, having previously been JLL’s head of the Western Corridor.

He says the Randstad deal is the largest office letting in the Luton area, since the pre-recession peak of 2008.

“The local market is relatively tight, but IMP have demonstrated that if the product is right, then top-quality tenants will look to move and upgrade and take space here,” says Parkes.

“Luton’s airport is only a couple of minutes away from Capability Green, and that’s a major draw for international occupiers, and especially for US corporates. The park is also barely a mile from J10 of the M1 and within a 15 minute drive of the M25, so in terms of location, it couldn’t be bettered.

“There’s been a trend for some time for occupiers to look for key modal points; so either close to a major train station, or near to an airport and the motorway network, and I don’t see that changing, so I expect this scheme to maintain its popularity.

”As always, if you can offer a quality product at the right price, then potential tenants will be interested, and we’re already got viewings booked for other space at Capability Green, so we’re very optimistic for the second half of 2016.”

IM Properties hopes to deliver sustainable new community in Solihull

IM Properties hopes to deliver sustainable new community in Solihull

Locally based developer, IM Properties, which also owns Mell Square Shopping Centre, is hoping to get the green light on what will be Solihull’s most ambitious, sustainable new housing scheme in recent years.

The proposal for Blythe Valley Park, situated at junction 4 of the M42, has been submitted for approval to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and is for up to 750 high quality homes. It is part of IM Properties’ wider vision to create a healthy and desirable environment, which is an exciting place to live, work and relax.

The planning application also includes provision for a 200-bedroom hotel and a housing with care facility of up to 250 units, leisure and other uses of up to 40,000 sq ft, plus an additional 1 m sq feet of commercial space.

Lewis Payne, IM Properties’ development director said: “We have taken considerable time and pride in putting this application together including extensive public engagement. We believe it is a considered and thoughtfully planned scheme, which makes the most of Blythe Valley Park and its largely undiscovered Country Park which will be extended to surround the whole scheme.

“Clearly our proposal is in the hands of the Council’s planning department, however we hope it will be positively received by Solihull and go on to provide much needed housing for younger families and first time buyers who want to find a home locally.”

Warwickshire based IM Properties, which bought the 260-acre park for around £125m at the end of 2014, has a strong presence in the region and is one of UK’s most successful privately owned property companies, with an investment and development portfolio of circa £900 million across the UK, Europe and USA.

IMP strategy pays off as Autins sign on at Birch Coppice

A Midland entrepreneur is setting up his latest venture at IM Properties’ flagship Birch Coppice Business Park - and shipping 14 container-loads of hi-tech kit all the way from Korea.

Jim Griffin’s Rugby-based Autins Group has taken just over 47,500 sq ft of industrial space, which is now being fitted out for his new Solar Non-Woven Ltd business.

The company specialises in supplying advanced insulation to manage noise and heat emissions for many of the world’s leading automotive marques, and the new company will manufacture a new type of micro-fibre insulation never previously used outside Korea.

“It’s a remarkable product, it’s lighter and thinner than anything available, but it out-performs everything currently on the market,” says Griffin.

“The commercial potential was huge, not just for automotive, but for many other sectors, including agriculture, apparel and aerospace, so after months of discussions, we are delighted that the Korean company which invented this material has granted us a licence to manufacture and sell it in Europe.”

The first production line alone has meant a £4m investment, and the power requirements are so great that IMP is constructing a special two mega-watt sub-station alongside his unit. The 14 containers were needed to bring the special manufacturing kit on its 5,500-mile journey from Korea.

For Griffin, it’s the latest growth phase for Autins, which expects to hit turnover of £25m in the current financial year, and numbers Aston Martin, Bentley, BMW, JLR, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota, Volvo and VW among the customers, which rely on its innovative products.

For IM Properties (IMP), it’s a welcome confirmation of the wisdom of its decision to launch a £50m investment programme last September to add 500,000 sq ft of speculative industrial space to its 400-acre Birch Coppice scheme located just half a mile from Junction 10 of the M42, and at The Hub, on the outskirts of Birmingham.

Kevin Ashfield, the group’s UK development director, says the unit taken by Solar Non-Woven is the first of five units being brought forward to tackle the dearth of high-quality industrial space across the Midlands.

“The old adage about speculating in order to accumulate is never truer than in property development, and the supply of available space in this region has been contracting since the recession,” he says.

“It was obviously a big decision to invest £50m on a speculative basis, but our long-term strategy is all about investing for future returns, and we were confident that as these units came forward, there would be significant interest.

“Equally, it’s crucial to make sure a range of sizes are available to suit the needs of occupiers with different requirements, so whilst this unit is 47,250 sq ft, the largest of the five will be 282,000 sq ft.

“Autins have signed a 15-year lease, which is great for us, and now we are focusing on the next two units at Birch Coppice. We started the necessary infrastructure works in September 2015, and I’d expect both units to reach practical completion in July and August 2016. “

The agents for Birch Coppice are CBRE, Colliers International and Eagleton & Co.

Situated in a prime location at the heart of the UK, the 400 acre Birch Coppice Business Park offers a range of high-class design and build opportunities, supported by outstanding connectivity inlcuding a rail terminal (BIFT) providing access to the UK’s rail infrastructure.

Connectivity key driver for occupier as it signs up for further 10 year lease

IM Properties (IMP) has signed up Zenith, the UK’s leading independent leasing, fleet management and vehicle outsourcing businesses, to a new 10-year lease at its One Central Boulevard HQ offices on Blythe Valley Park.

One Central Boulevard is currently undergoing a £5 million refurbishment to deliver 113,483 sq ft of grade A offices - offering the largest available floor plates on the M42 corridor.  Zenith is taking a total of 20,635 sq ft, extending its existing space by 5,500 sq ft.

Tim Buchan, Zenith’s chief executive said Blythe Valley’s connectivity was a key factor in its decision to expand its presence at the business park, and that the decision completes its UK strategy to position itself in three top tier locations in the north, south and Midlands.

“It’s essential for us as a business to be able to bring our clients in by rail, bus and car. Blythe is certainly one of the best-connected business parks for road and rail links, however it’s also much more. Being surrounded by 122 acres of country parkland creates not only a fantastic first impression to clients, but is important to us for the health and wellbeing of our team.

Attracting and retaining the best talent is fundamental for any business and the drive by IMP to deliver further facilities and expand the business park provides for a very attractive working environment.

“The decision to extend our lease at Blythe follows a range of recent decisions that we have made about the future of our office space. Our office at the Transport Research Laboratory in Crowthorne remains one of the prime office developments in Berkshire and the decision to move our Leeds office to new premises in the Kirkstall Forge puts us in one of the most innovative developments in the North of England.”

A phased programme of refurbishment work is being carried out at One Central Boulevard by contractor Overbury, with improved communal facilities including break-out areas and new cafe facility - again another key attraction for Zenith.

Rob Hemus asset manager at IM Properties said: “Blythe forms a significant part of IMP’s portfolio in the Midlands and as a local property company we all take a great deal of pride in the development of the business park and its success. With some two million square foot already planned and a further 44 acres yet to be developed, it offers tremendous long-term opportunities. It’s essential we create a unique identity that will appeal to a broad range of occupiers.

“Zenith’s decision to remain at the business park and expand its offices is extremely important to us. They have been part of our journey to deliver first class facilities since we took over the park in 2014. Working in partnership with occupiers is an essential element of a more sustainable future and as such we need to work with companies to grow their businesses and deliver a long term real estate strategy.”

Will Ventham, director at CBRE said: “securing a firm like Zenith for Blythe Valley Park is testament to IM Properties commitment and investment into the park. Blythe Valley Park is widely recognised as the premier business park address in the Midlands and exciting times lie ahead.”

“We already have the capability of satisfying smaller requirements within Cornwall House and Aspen, focusing primarily on businesses seeking to leverage the opportunity that the park offers for growth and recruitment. These properties are now complemented by One Central Boulevard offering a unique prospect for occupiers of up to 60,000 sq ft to secure high quality Grade A offices in a landmark building.”

18,000 sq ft is to be delivered this spring, with a further 19,000 sq ft available in summer and an additional 20,000 sq ft ready for occupation in early 2017. Key occupiers at Blythe Valley include Siemens, Arup, Infor and Enzen.

IM Properties, based in Coleshill, is one of the largest privately owned property groups in the UK, with an investment and development portfolio of circa £900 million across the UK, Europe and US.