Buyer gets his hands on a golden opportunity

9:11 AM Saturday August 9, 2014 Colin Taylor

Plans for Goldfields Shopping Centre are under wraps.

After being on the market for more than two years, the Goldfields Shopping Centre in Thames has been sold to property investor Andrew Budge for about $7 million.

Budge's portfolio also features other retail property, including the Bush Inn Shopping Centre in Christchurch and The Mall in Upper Hutt.

The shopping centre was sold by Kevin Richards, capital markets senior executive for Savills, who says it has been a difficult situation for the joint venture that owned Goldfields.

Richards says it is the second big neighbourhood provincial shopping centre Savills has sold within the past year.

"These centres are popular purchases for investors who have a retail background and know how to operate these properties to their full potential," Richards says.

"About half a dozen parties had put the property under contract at various times over the past two years and carried out due diligence but never proceeded to a purchase.

"Increasing levels of vacancy, a short weighted lease term and high operating expenditure made it challenging for everybody looking at the shopping centre."

Richards says it also created mounting frustration for the investment management committee representing the joint venture.

"It was a complex situation in which to broker a sale."

Richards says Budge kept a consistent interest in the property but never secured it under contract.

"As time elapsed, the terms of Budge's offer became more compelling and the purchase was settled just two weeks after final acceptance of his offer.

"With no bank debt it meant several of the standard purchaser hurdles could be bypassed resulting in a faster and more certain result for the joint venture than in normal practice and in comparison to other competing offers.

"Given the speed of ownership change, Budge has made some effort to accommodate the subsequent work required by former management staff at Goldfields to wind up the joint venture operation. The work was finished at the beginning of this month."

Budge has not yet announced any plans for the shopping centre anchored by The Warehouse and including 30 speciality shops.

Goldfields was built in the 1990s and has a net lettable retail area of about 8169sq m plus 550 car parks on a 1.6ha site.

The Warehouse opened its doors in 1997 and covers 45 per cent of the shopping centre's retail area.

The mainly single-level shopping centre's 30 speciality stores cover 4917sq m of air-conditioned space.

"As the only shopping centre in the Thames, Coromandel and Hauraki districts, it experiences fairly consistent trade," Richards says.