Case Studies

The Park MK: Creating Milton Keynes’ Best Business Park

Colmore Capital acquired Wavendon Business Park from M&G’s retail fund in November 2020.  The park’s customer proposition hadn’t changed since its construction in 2006 and, combined with the impact of COVID-19, occupier morale and perception of the park as a workplace was poor, with no unified sense of community.  We saw that the park’s expansive grounds, dearth of customer-focused initiatives and prolonged period of under-management by M&G  provided huge scope to curate and comprehensively reposition the park as the best in its market.

We set out by meeting with each of the occupiers to establish a new, more engaged and active relationship with them where they could input into our plans for the site.  We quickly secured a local operator for the café and opened it during lockdown for those occupiers working on-site.  In the first 18 months we procured a park app, hired a Lifestyle Manager and brought events and new amenities to the park, ranging from a putting green to 5-a-side tournament to summer barbeques and Christmas workshops.  Ultimately, customer satisfaction markedly increased and, following a rebrand, we secured three lettings in 2023 at record rents for out-of-town Milton Keynes, now 30% higher than the headline rent at acquisition.  Since acquiring the park, new lettings total 43,237 sq ft across four deals and 26,115 sq ft across new leases to two existing occupiers

Swift 34: Acquisition to Disposal In 13 Months

Swift 34 is a 33,617 sq ft logistics unit in Rugby, which was acquired by a new joint venture between Colmore Capital and Mattioli Woods in November 2020.  Key to the appeal of the asset was its excellent ‘Golden Triangle’ distribution location, 2.4 miles from J1 of the M6, the uncommon opportunity to acquire a mid-box industrial unit with vacant possession, at a time of strong and increasing competitive demand from investors, and the underlying quality of the real estate.

The relative over-provision of loading bays to its size, well-configured yard and non-heavy industry prior use ensured the right product, targeting logistics and distribution occupiers, could be delivered without requiring additional capital expenditure to reconfigure the property or to comprehensively replace key elements of the building fabric elements such as the warehouse slab.

Marketing was a key focus throughout the refurbishment process, from specifying targeted interventions to create a modern, cleanly-presented and EPC B product, to early engagement with occupier requirements.  As a result, two parties had competing interest in leasing the property prior to completion of the works, enabling a rent at 17% above underwrite to be achieved and selection of a tenant that was best aligned with target purchaser requirements.  Resource Secure Recovery, a food recycling business which repurposed surplus and wasted produce, was ultimately chosen as its ESG-focused business model would make Swift 34 a compelling prospect to funds with strong ESG investment requirements.  The asset was sold less than thirteen months from acquisition, 85% earlier than the underwritten sale date and 58% above the underwritten exit value.

Quartz Point: Realising Value Through Unmet Demand

Quartz Point Business Park was purchased from administrators following a prolonged period of associated under-management.  The fundamentals of the asset were strong: it is situated at the intersection of the M6 and M42, a prime location for businesses with a wide geographical catchment and mobile staff, each of the units is wholly self-contained, appealing to smaller requirements which want their own front door and mitigating significant multi-let building service charge costs, and despite the proximity to the motorway network the site feels green and quiet.  However passing rents were low at just £11 per sq ft and the combination of Birmingham Business Park, the dominant 150-acre business park a few minutes away, and surrounding HS2 infrastructure works, prevented the property from competing except as budget space.

Following acquisition, we invested in the park’s service infrastructure to reduce the estate charge, creating additional rental headroom, met with each of the customers on-site to better understand their needs, intensively improved the landscaping and crucially secured planning consent for a new car park extension which doubled parking provision, meeting stringent requirements for developing designated greenbelt land.  Parking provision for out-of-town locations was a key constraint for the park and remains so for its competition, where the best parking ratio available is 1:168 sq ft and some expensive, inconveniently located short-term surface parking, despite staff car travel being the primary driver of demand for the location.  Our repositioned occupier proposition, with a better environment, lower operating costs and the best parking ratio (1:150 sq ft with up to 1:100 available) in the region meant we became the first choice for occupiers needing a space for each staff member, enabling headline rents to be driven up b 77% to date across 18,702 sq ft of deals to existing occupiers and 11,386 sq ft of deals to new customers taking newly-refurbished space.