Fund manager QIC is preparing to market its 50 per cent stake in the highly successful Westfield Helensvale regional shopping centre in South East Queensland, paving the way for the first Australian sale of a regional shopping interest since early 2020.

CBRE’s Head of Retail Capital Markets Simon Rooney said the company has been appointed to steer the high-profile sale campaign on behalf of the QIC Property Fund.

“While early days, we are seeing a clear value and performance reset in the regional shopping centre sector in 2021, with the best assets recording strong monthly turnover and traffic growth in addition to income stabilisation,” he said.

“This value proposition has become increasingly compelling for investors, given the comparative returns on offer from alternative asset classes, where pricing levels are at historic highs. As retail fundamentals continue to improve, investors are pro-actively re-engaging and seeking out top-end shopping centre investment opportunities.”

Constructed in 2005, Westfield Helensvale is strategically located on an underutilised, 17.27ha site, in the booming northern Gold Coast growth corridor.

The modern and visually impressive, double discount department store centre has a gross lettable area (GLA) of approximately 44,800sqm. Major national retailers Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, Kmart and Target account for 88% of the total GLA and contribute to the centre’s high visitation rate of over 6.3 million customers each year.

The 50 per cent stake represents a very rare opportunity to secure a high quality regional shopping centre interest, with the last such trades involving a 50 per cent stake in Western Australia’s Garden City centre, which was acquired by Scentre Group in 2019 for $575m, and YFG’s two-stage purchase of Mt Ommaney shopping centre in Brisbane for $380m, in a deal which concluded in early 2020.

“We expect this very strategic 50 per cent stake in Westfield Helensvale to be competitively contested, as regional assets of this nature are traditionally tightly held and rarely traded,” he said.

“The centre’s high productivity, robust performance and solid rebound post Queensland’s COVID lockdowns, will help drive competitive investor interest, as will the asset’s strategic growth corridor location, high customer spend and surrounding significant transport infrastructure.”

The centre is strategically positioned between the Pacific Motorway and the Helensvale Train and Light Rail station, servicing an expansive trade area population of 345,000 residents with a total accessible market of 690,000 residents.