Luxury Retailers Are Buying Out Their Landlords
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Luxury Retailers Are Buying Out Their Landlords

By KATE KING
Sat, Feb 17, 2024 7:00amGrey Clock 3 min

Luxury retailers, flush with cash, are spending big on real estate in the world’s most expensive and exclusive shopping corridors.

In New York City, Prada recently agreed to buy the building that houses its Fifth Avenue store as well as the building next door for more than $800 million. Gucci’s parent company, Kering, is also paying nearly $1 billion for a 115,000-square-foot retail space a few blocks south.

Luxury behemoth LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton , meanwhile, is in discussions to purchase the Fifth Avenue retail space occupied by Bergdorf Goodman’s men’s store, according to a person familiar with the matter.

This activity follows a flurry of purchases in Europe, where high-end retailers have snapped up real estate on high streets including Avenue Montaigne in Paris and London’s New Bond Street in recent years.

Luxury’s real-estate shopping spree shows that retailers are using their considerable cash to free themselves from the control of landlords and plant their flags on streets where they want a long-term presence.

“The rents that the luxury retailers were paying on Fifth and in other prime locations were simply astronomical,” said Eric Menkes , co-chair of leasing for the New York-based law firm Adler & Stachenfeld. “There comes a point in time when these retailers looked in the mirror and said, ‘Why am I making my landlord rich?’”

Retail rents on upper Fifth Avenue haven’t surpassed pre pandemic levels, but they averaged $2,000 a square foot over the past year, making the corridor the most expensive retail destination in the world, according to real-estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

High-end retailers renewing their leases are often subject to the biggest rent increases, because they don’t want to leave well-known, successful addresses and pay for expensive build-outs at new stores.

“You don’t want to give up that location,” Menkes said. “And your landlord knows that.”

While the most recent eye-catching deals have been signed in New York and Europe, luxury companies are also buying buildings elsewhere. The French fashion house Chanel paid $63 million for a building on Post Street in San Francisco in 2021, the same year LVMH bought a hotel in Beverly Hills.

Chanel selectively acquires real estate “to protect its long-term presence in key cities around the world, and secure prime locations for luxury retail,” a spokesperson said.

While real-estate purchases so far appear concentrated in the most exclusive shopping corridors, luxury retailers are also signing leases in new markets and for bigger footprints to accommodate their swelling collections as well as new offerings such as restaurants and bars.

A surge in shopping for luxury goods powered the world’s largest luxury retailers to record profits in recent years. Sales growth has since slowed, but LVMH, which owns 75 brands including Dior and Hennessy, still reported nearly $94 billion in sales in 2023, beating analysts’ forecasts and sending the company’s stock price soaring in European trading .

“The premium luxury groups have so much cash on their balance sheet,” said Eric Le Goff , vice chairman and head of luxury for the brokerage Retail by Mona. For companies not contemplating acquisitions, “why not deploy the cash into real estate where you know you’re going to be there, hopefully for the next 100 years?”

In addition to cash, well-performing retailers have the option of floating corporate bonds to pay for their real-estate purchases at a lower rate than the traditional real-estate investor could get for a bank mortgage, according to Will Silverman , a managing director at Eastdil Secured, a real-estate investment-banking firm.

“The spread between where they can borrow and where a traditional real-estate investor can borrow, might be several percentage points apart,” Silverman said. That spread has never been wider in memory, he added.

This dynamic could mean luxury retailers are competing mainly against each other for real estate at the most desirable locations.

Luxury companies tend to cluster, so once one deal is signed, “usually that causes others to all jump in and want to be in the market, which then causes demand to increase and prices to rise,” said Andrew Goldberg , vice chairman at real-estate brokerage CBRE.



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Australia’s top 10 most affordable regional property markets investors should watch

Whether you prefer the country or the coast, there are plenty of east coast options for cashed up buyers

By Bronwyn Allen
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There are 10 local council areas scattered along the East Coast of Australia that offer both affordability and solid fundamentals for sustainable future growth, according to the research team at residential property network, PRD. The areas have been selected based on five criterion. They are affordability – defined as a median house price below $600,000, rising house values, strong rental yields to encourage investment, a strong pipeline of residential, commercial and infrastructure projects to facilitate local economic development, and low unemployment.

Here are Australia’s 10 most affordable regional property markets with great future potential.

Mackay, QLD

Mackay is a tropical coastal area located in north Queensland. It’s known for its closeconnection to the Great Barrier Reef. The median house price is $462,750, up 8.9 percent in 2023. Mackay attracts a lot of interstate migrants and is home to more than 120,000 people. It has a healthy economy with an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent and $1.7 billion worth of projects due to commence this year.

Toowoomba, QLD

The Toowoomba median house price was up 10.9 percent in 2023.

Toowoomba is located west of Brisbane and is known for its Victorian buildings, street artand surrounding national parks. The median house price is $560,000, up 10.9 percent in 2023. The city has a population of more than 180,000. The unemployment rate is 4 percentand there is $6.1 billion in projects commencing in 2024.

Townsville, QLD

Townsville is a coastal city in north-eastern Queensland. The median house price is $420,000, up 5 percent in 2023. It is home to more than 200,000 people. Unemployment is very low at 2.5 percent and there is $3.2 billion of projects commencing this year.

Dubbo, NSW

Dubbo is located west of Newcastle in the Orana Region and is home to the Western Plains Zoo. The median house price is $530,000, up 11.6 percent in 2023. The population has exploded in recent years to more than 56,000 people. The unemployment rate is just 2.2percent and the economy is thriving. There is a pipeline of $4.7 billion in projects commencing this year.

Tamworth, NSW

Located in north-east NSW, Tamworth is known for its popular annual Country Music Festival. It’s also the largest retail centre for the New England and Northwest Slopes regions. The median house price is $490,000, up 14 percent in 2023. With a population of more than 65,000 people, the economy is strong with unemployment of just 2 percent and $112.4million worth of projects commencing this year.

Griffith, NSW

Located west of Sydney and northwest of Canberra, Griffith is known for its prime produce production and wine cultivation. The median house price is $531,000, up 2.1 percent in 2023. Griffith’s population is about 27,000 people. The city boasts high economic resilience with a 2 percent unemployment rate and $258.7 million in projects in the pipeline.

Ballarat, VIC

Ballarat, Victoria

Ballarat is a 1.5hour drive west of Melbourne. It’s popular with city commuters who move here for housing affordability and a relaxed lifestyle with easy access to the city via train. The median house price is $570,000, down 4.2 percent in 2023 but up 92.9 percent over the past decade. The city has the third highest population in Victoria at about 118,000. Ballarat has an unemployment rate of 3 percent and a total projects pipeline worth $2.3 billion for 2024.

Shepparton, VIC

Shepparton is a rural area about two hours north of Melbourne. It is popularly referred to as the food bowl of Australia. The median house price is $475,000, up 4.4 percent in 2023. The population is about 70,000. The unemployment rate is just 2 percent and there is $1.8 billion in projects for 2024.

Wodonga, VIC

Wodonga is located on the border of NSW on the southern side of the Murray River. It is approximately 320km from Melbourne and 345km from Canberra. The median house price is $567,250, up 4.7 percent in 2023. With a population of about 44,000, the city’s jobless rate is 3 percent and there is $388.2 million in development set to commence in 2024, primarily new infrastructure.

Burnie, TAS

Burnie is a bustling port city located in Emu Bay in Tasmania’s north-west. Overlooking beaches and parklands, the area is known for its rich agriculture and mining projects. The median house price is $435,000, up 3.6 percent. Despite a rising population, the unemployment rate is falling and is currently 5.6 percent. In 2024, Burnie’s project pipeline is valued at approximately $1.6 billion. A significant portion is commercial development, primarily renewable energy projects.

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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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