George Capital, the UK property investment company, has announced its new fund, GCAP3, which aims to raise up to £100 million to acquire property assets in the leading regional cities across the country.
Contrary to widespread media coverage proclaiming the “death of the High Street” George Capital believes there are a number of regional cities which are performing well. GCAP3 will be focused on investing in mixed use assets in these locations. Having successfully completed two similar smaller investment funds, the company believes there is an interesting market opportunity for investors to acquire quality assets in the major regional cities and for which there is robust occupational demand and upside potential from alternative uses.
George Capital recently worked on a research project in partnership with Centre for Cities, the leading think tank dedicated to improving the performance of UK cities. Centre for Cities have produced a new report City Centres: Past, Present and Future, which examines the factors contributing to sustainable city centre economies. Unsurprisingly, the research found a direct correlation between the vibrancy of city centres and the presence of a highly skilled workforce and fast growth exporting businesses in these central urban locations.
These findings confirm the experience of the George Capital team in its two previous investment funds and points to a model for stronger cities. Cities which can provide mixed use business space combined with affordable house prices, thereby attracting the presence of a highly skilled workforce, have the potential to create city centre environments that will support a buoyant retail and leisure sector.
George Capital’s previous funds have invested in Glasgow, Cardiff, Nottingham, Birmingham, Newcastle and Shrewsbury. It will continue to apply the same disciplined approach to the creation of the GCAP3 portfolio. It will look for busy locations with resilient occupier demand, assets with affordable rents, that also offer scope for active asset management that increases value. The company believes there is a gap in the market, particularly in regional cities, for small to medium size assets with this potential, which can deliver attractive returns to investors.
“We disagree with the general pessimism that the High Street is dead, because it is a much more nuanced story. There is a lot of potential in some regional cities which we believe presents an interesting opportunity for investors and local communities,” said Ben Young, founding partner, George Capital. “Despite the current political and economic uncertainty there are thriving regional cities where large numbers of people live, work and play, and where the balance between commercial, residential and retail space supports demand.”