LSH expands following increase in activity

The Investment team in the Birmingham office of national commercial property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) is expanding following new research which shows a 150 per cent increase in property investment in the West Midlands over the last quarter.

The latest UK Investment Transactions report from LSH for the second quarter of 2011 paints one of the most optimistic pictures for the West Midlands property market since the recovery from recession began, with a very big increase in activity over the same time last year.

The upward trend has been helped by the long awaited disposal of distressed assets in the UK which is gathering pace, heralding a further increase in sales. Banks have been reducing their exposure through consensual sales.

LSH’s investment team in Birmingham has chalked up an exceptional first half to the year following a string of lettings and major investment deals. LSH is responding to the upturn in activity by increasing the size of its investment team. Adam Ramshaw has joined as an associate director from Knight Frank in Birmingham, where he worked in the consulatancy and investment teams for five years.

In his new role he will join LSH’s investment team serving Birmingham and the Midlands. He will also work with LSH’s expanding Capital Markets team in London, which works with corporate occupiers across the UK. He will provide investment brokerage and advice to LSH’s client base. Other new appointments are expected in the near future.

Ian Kibble, head of LSH’s Birmingham office, said, “While the national picture, once exceptional items are removed, is fairly stable, the increase in activity in the West Midlands is very encouraging. Activity is coming from a fairly low base and the Midlands has lagged behind London and the South East, but it is moving in the right direction. We are ensuring that the team here in Birmingham is able to respond to that.

In the first six months of the year the LSH team has acquired more than £70 million of industrial investment property, making it one of the leading property transactors in the region. This follows hard on the heels of the acquisition of Lakeside Industrial Estate in Redditch in 2010.

Recent LSH deals have included the acquisition of a nationwide £60.5 million industrial portfolio. LSH acted for Scottish Widows Investment Partnership and asset managers Centurion Properties to acquire the St Martins industrial portfolio which included a major multi-let industrial estate in Oldbury and two sites in Minworth. The portfolio was introduced to SWIP and Centurion Properties by Alex Hanna, Associate Director in LSH’s Industrial and Logistics team.

The portfolio was made up of seven industrial estates and a distribution warehouse including the Junction 2 Industrial Estate next to the M5 at Oldbury and the 14-acre Kingsbury Business Park in Minworth. Also included was an industrial estate near Heathrow Airport, The Elms industrial estate in London, the St Martins Business Centre in Bedford, the Lawnhurst Trading Estate in Stockport and the Kinning Parkway Estate in Glasgow.

Other significant Midlands LSH deals include a 180,000 sq ft industrial warehouse at Hams Hall let to Tradeteam Ltd and bought for Legal and General for £10.61 million. LSH’s Birmingham office introduced the property to Legal and General, working alongside Hugh White of LSH’s London-based Capital Markets team. This provided the client with on-the-ground local knowledge and advice backed up by capital markets expertise from LSH’s specialists.

In 2010 the Lakeside Industrial Estate in Redditch, a 17 unit industrial estate, was bought for the Scottish Widows Investment Partnership and Centurion Properties for £6.4 million.

Alex Hanna, Associate Director in LSH’s Industrial and Logistics Agency team said: “We have undoubtedly been among the most active players in the market so far this year. The industrial market is tough at the moment, but by delivering a quality service to clients and broadening the base of activity it’s still possible to get excellent results.”

As well as record-breaking investment deals, LSH has also been successful in securing a strong level of lettings and sales.

Alex Hanna said, “We have let nearly 300,000 sq ft since the beginning of the year and have a further 252,000 sq ft under offer. In addition we are now instructed on eight multi-let industrial estates for a range of institutional investors and property companies, so we have exposure to a good level of enquiries. Furthermore, while we are active in the 100,000 sq ft and above market, we have had considerable success in the sub-100,000 sq ft bracket.”