DFO Cairns to be sold to Brisbane property group

January 29, 2016

Nick Dalton | The Cairns Post                                                          

A Brisbane-based property investor group is close to buying the DFO Cairns shopping centre at Westcourt for about $50 million.

Sentinel Property Group will soon finalise the deal on the 25,000sqm property. Sentinel managing director Warren Ebert confirmed his interest in the centre, but he would not be drawn on financial details or timing of the planned acquisition. It is understood that Sentinel will launch an investor capital raising for the property which has 1500 car parks. It is believed the price tag is $50 million.

In recent weeks several Sentinel executives have visited the 8.15ha site on Mulgrave Rd. It has a total floor area of about 25,000sq m and parking for more than 1500 cars. One of the original tenants, Jane Koch of Man Overboard, said she was aware Sentinel representatives had visited the centre and store. She said she understood the deal was close but had yet to be signed off. Mrs Koch said the centre would be a great addition to Sentinel’s portfolio and believed the group was keen to improve facilities for tenants and customers. “I would hope that they will do more promotion. DFO is a great brand,” she said. Mrs Koch said she was confident of the centre’s future and last year doubled her store size to 200sq m. “Melbourne people on holidays shop at the centre as well as international tourists.”

Ross Britton of Hairhouse Warehouse said he met and talked to Sentinel’s general manager Richard White who asked him a lot of questions, including the strengths and weaknesses of the centre. Mr Britton told him trade seemed to be picking up after a $5 million refurbishment and a redesign in 2014. “I think it (Sentinel) would be good for the centre and I would hope they would spend a bit more on marketing,” Mr Britton said.

ASX-listed company Perpetual Ltd put the property on the market last year with JLL’s Sam Hatcher and Simon Rooney. It is the only DFO outlet centre north of Brisbane and is home to an array of national and international tenants, including Coles, Hungry Jacks, Trade Secret, Bonds, EB Games and Ralph Lauren. According to CoreLogic RP Data DFO bought the 8.5ha centre in 2006 for $45 million from Trinity Fund Management Ltd. It is one of the last DFO centres operated by the failed Austexx group. Late last year Sentinel snapped up the property housing Big W at Atherton for $10.35 million.

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