M&S occupied stores owned by Topland up for grabs for £500m
Topland had in 2001 acquired 78 stores from M&S for £348m in a sale-and-leaseback dealReuters

Stores leased to Marks and Spencer (M&S) in the UK are up for sale. These stores are owned by Topland Group, one of Europe's largest privately-owned investment groups. They are said to have appointed real estate services company CBRE to find a suitable buyer.

Topland had acquired 78 stores from M&S for £348m (€438.05m, $494.32) in 2001 in a sale-and-leaseback deal. Thus M&S, who were owners of these properties, became tenants. Today, Topland is offering 76 of these stores, 13 of which are in prime London locations such as Chiswick, Camden, Clapham and Putney, for £500m.

M&S had then sold its assets to generate cash which it required to help return £2bn to shareholders and for the 4,000 job redundancies it had incurred from the closing of its 38 European stores and sale of its two US subsidiaries. The British retailer, which today has a portfolio of 852 stores in the country and 480 outside, will continue to operate at these stores even after Topland exits.

These stores, which in total occupy about 3.5 million sq ft, generate an annual rent of £31.4m. Considering this return, it is considered that it could generate significant interest from potential buyers.

Peter Arduino, capital markets executive director at CBRE, said: "This is a fantastic portfolio, which will offer investors the rare opportunity to acquire a perfect mix of prime high street units, 95% of which are let to one of the UK's leading retailers."

"The portfolio will provide a stable income on fixed uplifts and valuable asset management opportunities. There is no doubt it will attract significant interest from the UK and global market, which is lacking a supply of interesting stock", Arduino added.