Leeds takes Hornsea Freeport to market as opportunity for turnaround investors

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LEEDS Building Society is marketing Hornsea Freeport to turnaround investors for between £4m to £5.5m.

The mutual took control of Britain’s first factory shopping outlet centre via an administration process in 2010 after it fell victim to the downturn in consumer spending.

Leeds had lent £16m to former owners Hornsea Estates and Hornsea Estates (No.2) in 2007. The centre was valued at £7m when Leeds acquired the asset. The society said it has decided to take Hornsea Freeport to market after attracting interest from two private investors.

Kim Rebecchi, sales and marketing director, said: “Obviously it was at a time when the crisis had just happened, the market wasn’t positive for us to sell it so we decided to trade it ourselves for the medium term.

“It was never in our long-term strategy that Leeds Building Society would be the long-term owner of a shopping outlet centre. We did it because there were was quite a lot of jobs at stake. There were 250 people working there.

“We wanted to make sure that over time that we could trade it and when the market turned we would be able to sell it.”

She said the shopping centre is 75 per cent full, turns over nearly £8m and employs 182 people. It has 800,000 visitors a year.

Freeport sold Hornsea for £17.5m in 2005 to a consortium of private investors.

Patrick Noakes, managing director.

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