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credit: Realm
credit: Realm

Outlet advisory service launched to capitalize on investor appetite for resilient retail sector

A newly launched consultancy division from Realm will provide a broad variety of due diligence, advisory and asset underwriting services to investors and their lenders seeking to break into or expand exposure to the UK and global outlet market.

The launch of the division, known as Realm Outlet Advisory, comes at a pivotal time as appetite increases from multiple investor groups – including many newcomers to the market – who are recognizing the maturity and attractiveness of outlets. Outlets have effectively weathered the pandemic and economic turbulence of recent years, demonstrating resilience to emerge as one of the fastest sectors to rebound across Europe. They have consistently outperformed traditional full-price retail and further strong performance is expected in 2022 and beyond.

 In the last 12 months Realm – which celebrates its 20th birthday this year – has advised institutional and private equity clients on the acquisition, sale, or development of circa £900 million of outlet schemes including Cheshire Oaks, Swindon and Bridgend and London Designer Outlet. Realm’s operating methodology is driven by active asset management and collaboration, backed by comprehensive data collection that provides full visibility of trading to ensure the ongoing success of its occupiers. By harnessing its wealth of data and operating platform, Realm can collaborate with occupier partners and support their business growth. It is now looking to draw on these insights to inform decision-making at the other end of the spectrum; advising investors seeking to maximise asset value and returns.

Dan Mason, Managing Director, Realm, said: “Having been involved in several of the biggest outlet transactions in the last 12 months, we noticed a clear demand for our specialist skill set and knowledge base. Whilst investment agency support is available, there is a need to couple this with an understanding of the day-to-day workings of the outlet and turnover model and a market facing appreciation of occupier performance and requirements. We are well placed to bridge this gap, as we not only understand the theory, but have two decade’s experience putting it into practice. With this deep operational and transactional intelligence we can therefore help underwrite an outlet proposition or opportunity. We are on track to reach the milestone of advising on over £1 billion of transactions in the next six months, making this the right time to build on our robust track record and take the natural next step to share our experience in a commercial advisory capacity.”

Mark Watts, one of Realm’s founding directors, will lead the newly launched division whilst maintaining his current role as Finance Director. Under his leadership, the new service line will pair Realm’s industry-leading outlet insight and decades of experience to provide a range of services that will span financial appraisals, business planning and growth strategies for current and target assets, and advice on everything from management structures to data collection systems, new development opportunities, and operational performance to ESG. Watts adds: “Wider market dynamics and continued momentum and occupier demand for the outlet sector have aligned and we see real opportunity for a business with a proven track record in this niche sector to offer a dedicated service to investors hungry for exposure. The market is definitely maturing and there is a real need for specific, informed and practical advice.”