Retail Property - Shopping centre boom continues in 2004

The shopping centre investment boom shows no signs of abating, according to research from Cushman & Wakefield Healey & Baker.

With 27 shopping centres, worth£1.4 billion, changing hands over the first quarter of this year, the market is on target to exceed last year's total turnover of£4.6 billion, according to C&WH&B partner David Erwin.

He said institutional invest-ors are now competing with debt-driven private buyers, and this is pushing capital values to new highs. 'The big difference between now and this time last year is that there has been a 50 to 75 basis point shift in yields,' he said.

As evidence of the renewed institutional appetite for shopping centres, Erwin cited Aberdeen Property Investors' decision to back Crest Nicholson's Riverside development in Hemel Hempstead.

In addition, a number of funds are understood to have made strong bids for P&O Developments' Drake Circus scheme in Plymouth.

With a number of investment deals already in the pipeline, Erwin expects the strong market to continue into the next quarter.

'Even though the occupier market is not exceptional at the moment, investors are still piling into shopping centres,' he said.