Next completes sale and leaseback of head office and warehouses


High street fashion retailer Next Plc has confirmed the successful sale and leaseback of its head office in Enderby, Leicestershire. Details of the transaction were not provided, but a trading statement filed in April said that the company was in the advanced stages of a deal for the HQ worth £48 million.

It is believed that the sale and leaseback of some of Next’s warehouses has generated a further £107 million.

Next engaged property agent Savills to find a buyer for its head office and tasked Acre with selling three Doncaster warehouses in April, as we reported here. The sale-and-leasebacks formed part of a mitigation strategy as the retailer looked to raise funds and lessen the impact of coronavirus on its balance sheet.

At the time, the company said it could raise up to £100 million from its properties to offset the closure of its stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus crisis forced the company to slash investment plans by £45 million and suspend its share buyback scheme.

In March, Next forecast three scenarios in which sales could be down by up to £1 billion in 2021, with annual profits potentially falling from £594 million in the year to January 2020, to £55 million a year later. In April it revised potential lost revenue to between £1.2 billion and £1.6 billion.

Despite the reopening of shops, Next still expects to see sales drop by 40 per cent over the year.

In a statement, a Next spokesperson said: “The sale and leaseback of the Enderby HQ has now been completed. No details of the sale and leaseback of the HQ have been made public. All I can say is that (COVID apart) there are no operational changes to the HQ set up over what went before – and staff won’t know any different.”

Next is one of several companies to have turned to sale-and-leasebacks in order to bolster cashflow during the pandemic. Topps Tiles completed the £18.1 million sale-and-leaseback of its head office in Leicester and central warehouse buildings to UK Warehouse Properties Ltd in June. Ted Baker also recently completed a sale-and-leaseback of its London HQ to a wholly-owned subsidiary of British Airways Pension Trustees Limited in a deal worth £78.75 million.

One of the best ways to find properties below market price is to look at recent administrations.

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