Scoop is a leading Shopping Centre
Asset Manager & Developer

About us

We are independent and privately owned. Our focus is on UK assets. In particular shopping centre investments and retail led development. We partner with real estate investors, including property fund managers and opportunity funds. We work as a team combining our extensive knowledge of the retail sector with investment, development and financing skills.

The Executive has a proven record in property asset management, site assembly, planning, development, leasing and financial structuring. Scoop is probably unique in being able to offer these services, and more, under one roof, to add value and deliver outstanding risk-adjusted returns to our investors.

Background

Scoop is well placed to secure opportunities in the UK commercial property market. Scoop identifies assets that are capable of being repositioned and sold into the institutional market. Emphasis is placed on delivering above average risk adjusted returns, taking account of the property's physical attributes, optimising finance, and efficient legal and corporate structuring.

Emphasis is placed on the opportunistic purchasing of good quality investments that fall within the "Core Plus" and "Value Added" genres. We aim to provide 'best in class' asset management and development services. We undertake detailed financial analysis and provide concise investor reporting.

We are hands on and have a thorough understanding of the market.

We recognise the importance of stock selection, which combined with timing and accurate prediction of market cycles, drives investment performance.

The UK Shopping Centre Universe extends to some 850 centres. This relatively small universe, combined with our information database of properties and transactions, enables us to identify ownerships, undertake high-level reviews of tenant line-up and likely performance, and define those centres that are of interest from an investment perspective.

We combine downside risk analysis, which helps formulate a 'base case' scenario, with the comprehensive assessment of the upside potential, taking account of the opportunities that a particular asset may present. A robust business plan is devised that seeks to maximise investor returns in a time efficient manner. Scoop has built a sophisticated financial model that assists in this process. Assets are managed in accordance with a clearly defined strategy, derived from quantitative analysis and a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental factors affecting the market.

We recognise the need to understand the macro and micro issues as they affect each investment. Internal and external research is employed to help identify risks and define strategy. Risk analysis falls into two broad camps: market or systemic risk and asset specific risk. Consumer catchment, economic profiling and tenant specific analysis is undertaken to assists in the identification of the asset specific risks, together with quantitative and qualitative assessment of income, tenant mix, the probability of default or other structural voids.

Scoop focuses primarily on the acquisition and management of prime and upper secondary centres, falling broadly into the regional, sub-regional and larger district centre categories.

Regardless of size or position within the retail hierarchy, it is essential to understand the underlying dynamics of the retail market and to identify the correct positioning of the asset within this market place. We assess the need and scope for the retail offer to be re-positioned to suit the intended catchment.

Considerable time is spent "stress testing" the asset, identifying down-side risk. Opportunities to add value are identified, typically involving a combination of tenant engineering, head-lease renegotiation, redevelopment or refurbishment and extension.

Scoop has strong relationships with traditional lenders and non-bank entrants to the property lending market. We have extensive experience in identifying appropriate financing strategies and our rigorous approach to financial management enables us to secure senior debt on advantageous terms.

Scoop is also able to access the mezzanine loan finance and preferred equity markets, where it has long established contacts with the leading providers of such finance.

We work with our investors’ tax specialists to implement corporate tax planning with the aim of mitigating tax leakage. The team has a detailed working knowledge of a variety of corporate structures across a wide range of jurisdictions and tax regimes.

Scoop prepares a comprehensive Business Plan in the form of a written document and bespoke financial model. This document forms the essence of the business strategy. It is a crucial management tool and sets down key targets and performance measures. Kept under regular review, the Business Plan establishes the asset management initiatives for the asset in question.

Property and asset management overlap and detailed hands-on property management knowledge of individual issues and characteristics in a centre blend into and inform asset management plans. Scoop is able to provide a "one stop shop" for all asset and property management activities, helping to ensure efficient cash flow management. This includes rent, service charge and insurance billing and collection. In addition, corporate secretariat services can be undertaken in house.

On a selective basis, and only where letting risk and construction risk can be adequately mitigated, Scoop will undertake retail led development. This may manifest in redevelopment, extension, refurbishment or reconfiguration of assets, which may incorporate other uses, such as residential and leisure, alongside retail.

At the point of purchase the Business Plan will have envisaged a specific hold period, typically three to five years. This will be dependent on the Investors internal criteria and the time required to implement the Business Plan, and is subject to regular review. Scoop does not become wedded to assets under management. We will advise on an appropriate sales strategy as and when we determine a disposal would be in the best interests of the Investors and, by default, therefore of the joint venture partnership.

Meet the team

  • Graham Cole BSc FRICS Principal

    Graham has over 30 years experience of property asset management and development.

    Graham founded Scoop with Stuart in 2009. Prior to this Graham was a major shareholder and executive director at Ashcroft Estates Plc, an asset enhancement specialist. He was integral to the establishment and running of The Charterhouse Shopping Centre Funds (subsequently the HSBC Shopping Centre Funds I & II), which were the top performing funds within their peer group generating equity IRRs of 22% and 39% respectively over their operational lives.

    Prior to Ashcroft, Graham held senior positions with MEPC Plc, Shearwater Property Holdings Plc (part of Rosehaugh Group) and London & Edinburgh Trust Plc (which evolved into SPP Investment Management).

    Graham has been involved with numerous retail projects including the first planning stages of Bluewater in North Kent, a joint venture between Shearwater and Blue Circle Industries. At London & Edinburgh Trust (which became SPP and then Celexa), Graham was responsible for the site assembly, planning, development agreement, CPO and pre-lettings of the Bull Ring in Birmingham and the Oracle in Reading, both highly praised regional shopping centres. He also ran the SPP Pacific office, which developed retail and mixed use projects in Singapore and Malaysia.

    Graham has studied design evolution in North America, Europe and South East Asia and has an in-depth understanding of how asset management, renovation and new development works at all levels, with an overriding interest in financial viability and returns.

    Graham is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

  • Stuart Farnell BSc MRICS Principal

    Stuart's career has encapsulated property asset management, development, finance, fund structuring and consultancy, over a 30 year period.

    Stuart founded Scoop with Graham in 2009. Prior to this Stuart held senior positions in property finance and development at European banks KBC Bank N.V. and Société Générale where he was instrumental in structuring and managing senior debt, mezzanine and equity positions. He established joint ventures and direct investment in property, including undertaking large scale direct development.

    Stuart has also worked in the quoted property sector with developer The Morrison Construction Group plc. As a Director and with responsibility for establishing joint ventures and the procurement of finance, he was involved in the development of a number of the UK’s largest mixed use, retail and leisure developments together with in-town and out-of-town retail centres and factory outlet shopping in the UK and continental Europe.

    He has valuable experience of asset management, development and investment consultancy gained while with Richard Ellis and St Quintin (now CBRE), together with corporate recovery and company management while at KMPG during the recession of the early 1990s.

    Stuart is a Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and also of the Investment Property Forum. He has studied corporate finance and was involved in the establishment and operation of a corporate finance firm approved and regulated by the FSA.

  • Mark Hewett BSc MRICS Principal

    Mark has focussed on the retail sector for the last 30 years, the first 20 of which were spent as a consultant.

    Mark joined Scoop in the Summer of 2013 from Miller Developments, where he was Retail Director, a position he held for eight years. At Miller, Mark was involved in the Company’s joint venture with Delancey, Centros Miller, which specialised in new retail developments. In addition Mark spent several years working for Miller in Central Europe.

    Prior to Miller, Mark was with Conrad Ritblat (now Colliers) where he established a retail development team becoming Head of UK Retail in 2001. At Colliers Mark specialised in the acquisition of dysfunctional shopping centres and the structuring and implementation of asset management business plans. Mark brings significant knowledge of the occupational market and plays a key role in the sourcing of new assets, property due diligence, retailer discussions.

    Mark has also held positions with Healey & Baker (now Cushman & Wakefield) and at niche retail development consultancy, Hill Welsh.

    Mark is a Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

  • Jerome Smith Consultant

    Jerome spent 30 years as a partner in Buckley Smith & Partners, a niche practice specialising in the acquisition, funding and leasing of retail schemes. Over this period Jerome built a close working relationship with many leading national retailers and retail development companies, which has enabled him to identify and source opportunities throughout the UK and often 'off market'.

    Jerome was a founding member of Centenary Asset Management LLP, which acquired a portfolio of shopping centres offering asset management and development opportunities. He has built close relationships with all of the major supermarket operators and has been instrumental in securing a number of new large format store openings across England.

    Jerome acts as a consultant to Scoop where his knowledge and contacts notably in the convenience store sector assists Scoop in identifying situations for standalone stores and for mixed use, retail and residential development opportunities.

Management

Scoop’s executive is assisted by an in-house property team comprising asset and development managers, a property accounts manager, financial modellers and analyst, and retail advisory specialist.


Case Studies

Eastgate Shopping Centre Inverness

As the capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness has the largest geographical shopping catchment area in Europe and consequently the Eastgate Centre represents one of the most dominant shopping centres in the UK. In August 2015 Scoop, in partnership with Harbert European Real Estate Fund IV (HEREF), acquired the heritable interest in the scheme for c. £116 million from BMO Real Estate Partners, formerly known as F&C REIT. This marks the first shopping centre acquisition for HEREF in the UK.

The Eastgate Centre was built in two phases. Phase one opened in 1983 and was extended in 2002. The 410,000 sq ft Centre now comprises some 80 shops and leisure units, with occupiers including Boots, Debenhams, Next and H&M, two car parks with an aggregate 1,350 spaces, an adjacent Marks & Spencer and attracts an annual footfall of c. 9.4 million people.

Scoop identified the investment opportunity, undertook pre-purchase commercial due diligence, identified suitable senior debt lenders and produced a detailed financial model and business plan for the asset, which it will now implement. In addition to co-ordinating traditional leasing and property management activity, Scoop will oversee various planned works of repair and will be seeking to expand and improve the leisure and catering offer at the scheme.

The Centre and Almondvale West Retail Park Livingston

In December 2014 Hines UK, in partnership with HSBC Alternative Investments Limited (HAIL), acquired The Centre and Almondvale West Retail Park with heritable title from Land Securities for a price in excess of £220 million. Livingston is one of the major retail destinations in Scotland, strategically positioned at the heart of Scotland’s affluent Central Belt.

Built in 3 phases and comprising circa 860,000 sq ft, The Centre dominates the town’s retail offer. Anchor stores include Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Next and Primark whilst the largest Asda store in Scotland fully integrates into the scheme. Almondvale West Retail Park comprises circa 115,000 sq ft and is anchored by TK Maxx and Matalan. In total the two assets offer in excess of 2,500 parking spaces and occupy circa 47 acres.

Scoop sourced the investment opportunity on a quasi off-market basis and, working alongside Hines, undertook all commercial due diligence and formulated the asset management business plan for post-acquisition implementation. The team will be looking to increase dwell-times by the introduction of further leisure uses, address areas of weaker pedestrian flow within The Centre, fine-tune tenant mix and re-clad Almondvale West Retail Park.

This high-quality asset is the second acquisition for Scoop from Land Securities and demonstrates Scoop’s ability to source high-quality stock away from the full spotlight of the market.

Washington Square Shopping Centre Workington

Scoop acquired Washington Square in June 2014 from Blackstone, acting through LPA Receivers, for £30 million in its second joint venture with Europa Capital LLP.

Washington Square is the dominant shopping centre in West Cumbria. Developed at a cost of c. £50 million the scheme opened in 2006 and provides the prime retailing in the town centre. Extending to 263,000 sq ft with 60 retail units, the Centre is anchored by Debenhams, Next, River Island and New Look, and includes a 427 space car park.

Prior to purchase by Scoop it had suffered from a lack of active management and insufficient capital investment. As a consequence it had not met its full trading potential.

A number of vacant units were inherited at acquisition, largely as a result of retailer insolvencies. Scoop is in the process of implementing a well defined business plan designed to increase the appeal of the Centre to both customers and retailers, and is pleased with the rate of progress in converting fresh enquiries into new lettings at the scheme.

Fremlin Walk Shopping Centre Maidstone

Fremlin Walk was acquired by Scoop from Land Securities for £69 million, in a joint venture with Europa Capital LLP and with debt procured from Deutsche Postbank. At the time the Centre had a significant number of voids and a vacancy rate of 20%, largely as a result of a dysfunctional leasing strategy, poor tenant mix and a number of retailer insolvencies. In addition, despite being some five years old, there remained a lengthy list of outstanding snagging matters.

Scoop prepared and implemented a detailed Business Plan, aimed at stabilising and then increasing net operating income, refining tenant mix and mitigating vacancies, rectifying defects and improving centre marketing, tenant liaison and communications with customers.

An intensive, hands-on approach to dealing with these matters over a twenty-one month period followed, with the ultimate aim of repositioning the Centre and enhancing capital value.

A string of new lettings were secured. A thorough audit of the service charge identified areas where savings could be made and the benefit passed on to tenants. Minor defects in the legal title where also attended to. Such intense action ensured the property was capable of on-sale within a short time frame.

Capitalising on improved investor sentiment, there followed an opportunistic sale to Legal & General for c. £94 million. The investment produced an equity IRR in excess of 50% and a near doubling of equity capital invested.


Scoop Asset Management Limited
128 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1W 9SA
020 7881 1920 info@scoop-am.com