Pushing Back the Boundaries of Retail Asset Management

27th January 2022
Shopping Centre Asset Management | Sovereign Centros
Sovereign Centros has a long track record in retail asset management with a hugely experienced team. Now a significant player in the UK, over the last ten years the Firm has seen huge changes in the marketplace with the emergence of new investors, serious challenges to retail posed by both the internet and (more recently) the Covid19 Pandemic as well as changing service levels. We explore some of these issues and look at how Sovereign Centros’ approach differs from other asset managers.

Since its inception in 2008, the Firm has developed a solid client base working with a range of assets around the country. Since then, it has brought on a number of new clients, notably  Frenchgate Doncaster, Metrocentre Gateshead and most recently Touchwood Solihull as well as Merry Hill.

Says Director Graeme Jones: “We have always had a flexible approach to retail assets, taking on shopping centres where we know we can add real value yet turning down a number which we felt wouldn’t suit our portfolio.

He continues: “We have seen some major changes to the market, particularly over the 5-10 years, notwithstanding the impact of Coronavirus. With the emergence of more institutional investors into the market, financial delivery has now become critical.

“Furthermore, due to the effects of Covid on the retail sector, banks and financial institutions having been looking to take more direct control and seek elegant solutions. Sovereign had been very active in this sphere. In many ways, as a firm of property professionals, we are having to think more like accountants than asset managers. With a move to shorter, more flexible turnover deals, cashflow is key and there is inevitably a greater focus on rent collections.”

This change of emphasis is also reflected in how Sovereign Centros operates as a specialist firm. In many ways it represents a new style of retail asset management where speed of response, agility and having a wide range of skillsets are all vital in order to deliver returns to today’s institutional investors.

Simon Phipps, Senior Leasing & Asset Manager, explains: “Partners and clients are much better informed in today’s market and expect constant updates. That is why with all our assets, we put a comprehensive business plan in place then commit to implementing the key recommendations as soon as possible in-house.

“This speed of delivery contrasts with larger and longer established asset management companies who lack flexibility and often contract out work, thereby surrendering a degree of control and offering a less than personalised service.

In essence, he boils down the Sovereign Centros approach into three key facets:

  1. Communication – ensuring there is constant dialogue with partners, clients, landlords and retailers
  2. Collaboration – working with all stakeholders to ensure practical, organised outcomes
  3. Commitment – rolling up our sleeves and ensuring we deliver on all aspects of our business plan

These have served the company well, particularly over the last 18 months which have been particularly painful for retailers and landlords alike. All Sovereign Centros’ shopping centres have thrived despite the Pandemic and it is looking to take on more assets over the course of 2022.