Sale of Docks Bruxsel Shopping District to Canadian investment fund

JLL announces the sale of the "Docks Bruxsel" Shopping District to Portus Retail on behalf of a Canadian investor.

May 04, 2018

Only a few months ago, the JLL Capital Markets team introduced the buyer, a Canadian investment giant but nevertheless new to the Brussels market. His decision to acquire Docks Bruxsel confirms once again the growing interest of international investors for shopping centres located in Belgium, more particularly in Brussels.

Docks Bruxsel, pioneer of a new generation

The Docks Bruxsel “Shopping District”, inaugurated in October 2016, covers 42,000 m² on two levels, plus 11,000 m² of leisure space and 7,400 m² of productive activities.

This "new generation" shopping centre, the first of its kind in Belgium, was dreamed and developed by Equilis – the Belgian real estate developer which is active in 7 European countries – in cooperation with the Belgian architects firm Art & Build and the French design agency Saguez & Partners. A visionary project that has just been rewarded by ICSC Europe, receiving a Shopping Centre Award in the Large New Developments category.

Docks Bruxsel is home to 110 fashion, leisure, furniture, beauty and services brands and a Food District with some 15 restaurants. It is the first Shopping District in Belgium to offer its public a combination of premium products (Michael Kors, Superdry, LiuJo...), family brands (Kiabi, H&M Home, Sergent Major, JBC...), flagship stores such as the Samsung Experience store and exclusive activities with the country's first Koezio.

During its first year of existence, Docks Bruxsel attracted 5 million visitors, enabling it to position itself amongst the most visited malls in the country. Today, Docks Bruxsel is located in the middle of a catchment area with a constantly growing population of some 2.5 million consumers.

Jean-Philip Vroninks, CEO JLL Belgium and Luxembourg : "Docks Bruxsel is an exceptional Shopping District managed on a daily basis by our Property & Shopping Center Management team. We have been closely involved in its development, its commercialisation with our agency teams, its management and now the sale. A "360°" service.  Since its opening, our teams have taken great pleasure in bringing Docks Bruxsel into the hearts of all residents of Brussels and beyond. This JLL quality work will soon be applied to 4 shopping centres in Belgium and Luxembourg."

"We are particularly pleased to have been able to lead this process from the search for a candidate to the closing of the transaction as Equilis' counsel. Both the seller and the buyer were able to surround themselves with professional and quality advisors in order to guarantee a sustained pace throughout the process. Given the size and complexity of the Shopping District, we are very proud of the result." continues Jean-Philip Vroninks.

The Belgian retail market, a target for foreign capital

Shopping centres in Belgium are attracting the interest of local and international investors. Over the last five years, 12 shopping centres have changed hands, representing an area equivalent to 300,000 m² out of a total stock of shopping centres in Belgium of 1.16 million m².

In 2015, the largest shopping centres in Flanders – Wijnegem Shopping and Waasland Shopping – were sold by CBRE Global Investors to CIC – a Chinese sovereign fund – for a total amount of € 825 million, at a record return for this period of 4.25%. In Wallonia, we recorded two major transactions in Liège: at the end of 2015, CBRE GI sold Galeries St-Lambert to AG Real Estate for € 135 million and one year later CBRE GI acquired Médiacité for € 255 million. In Brussels, Primonial took over the Basilix shopping centre for € 64 million at the end of 2015. Finally, at the beginning of 2018, the Woluwe Shopping Centre was sold to Eurocommercial for a volume of € 468 million with a return slightly below 4%. Eurocommercial, a Dutch investor specialising in international shopping centres, was introduced by JLL on the Belgian market and this particular acquisition was its very first in Belgium.

Adrian Glatt, Head of Capital Markets JLL Belgium and Luxembourg : "The sale of Docks Bruxsel is already the third shopping centre transaction in 2018! And JLL Capital Markets is proud to have completed two of these three transactions, both with foreign investors new to the Belgian market. This confirms more than ever the appetite of international investors for Brussels and the strength of JLL to direct these funds to our market."