Retail Holdings

Southgate sale aligns with Urban Partners’ strategy for the future

On 30 April 2015, Urban Partners completed the sale of the Southgate shopping centre in South Auckland to Augusta. When the development of Southgate began over 12 years ago there was very little in the way of large format retail in the area. It was a strategic decision by then Retail Holdings, based on the planning considerations for the area and the population growth projections at the time. As the name Retail Holdings suggests, we had retail in our veins right from the start. It’s a legacy that began when brothers Haydn and Mark Staples began investing in retail property off the back of being retail tenants in the 1970s. 

The sale of Southgate Centre marks a milestone for Urban Partners, a closing off of one chapter in our 30-year history and the start of another that sees us moving into growth sectors such as hospitality, health and wellness destinations residential mixed use developments, amongst others.  Auckland’s growth, the aging population, a strong hospitality sector, and an increasing interest in health and wellbeing are all major trends that are factored into our business strategy. 

The rebrand from Retail Holdings to Urban Partners in 2014 was a way of communicating our new direction to the market. That’s not to say that Urban Partners is getting out of retail altogether. There are retail elements to a number of our existing investments in Mission Bay, Waiwera and Pahia that are an integral part of our plans to carefully transform these popular destinations into ‘visionary places’.  And as the recent design, fund and delivery of projects like the Spark Data Centre have shown, we are actively looking for new projects that leverage our core skills and competencies, and align with Urban Partners’ vision for the future.

To find out what the top urban design trends are that are shaping New Zealand’s biggest city, download the infographic here.

Retail Holdings Limited looks to the future and rebrands itself as Urban Partners

“Our name change is a reflection of who we’ve become and where we’re headed,” says Rob Marshall, CEO of newly rebranded commercial property and investment company, Urban Partners.

Urban Partners Development: Spark Data Centre

Urban Partners Development: Spark Data Centre

As the name suggests, Retail Holdings Limited has a legacy of retail property investment, successfully capitalising on trends in consumer behaviour by investing in projects ranging from large format shopping centres through to boutique dining and entertainment precincts.
“Over time we’ve become much more than a retail property investment company and we want our brand to reflect that,” says Marshall. “Our name change also signals our future direction as we take on projects that are increasingly unique and diverse.”

If recent years are anything to go by, Urban Partners is already well down the path to diversification. In 2012, the company committed to manage, design, construct and fund a $60 million data centre for Spark Digital. The Prime Minister opened the state-of-the art facility in October of this year. 

“Our rebrand is not about abandoning our roots in retail,” says Marshall. “We are continuing to investigate the development options for The Promenade at Mission Bay for example, but we’re always watching for trends in the marketplace, whether it be in retail, technology or how people spend their leisure time.”

The pursuit of wellness is another significant trend that Urban Partners’ recognised the potential of early on. Over the years, the company has acquired strategic assets at Waiwera with a vision of creating a world-class wellness destination that has a mix of complementary attractions and accommodation.

The company has a long-standing philosophy of focusing first on the needs of end users - the people who visit the shops, restaurants and leisure precincts they create – before beginning any development. “It may sound obvious, but if end users enjoy the experience, the tenants' businesses will thrive, resulting in quality long-term revenue for the property owner,” says Marshall. “You’d be surprised how few developments start with that in mind.”

In a world where investing for short-term gain has become the norm, Urban Partners has built its success on taking a long-term view. “Acquiring, funding and developing high performing assets takes foresight and depth of experience,” says Marshall. “We’ve proven to the market over the past 30 years that we have both, and we’ll continue to seek out unique prospects for investment, funding and growth.”