Portman founders reap $22m from retail property sales

The Bloom family, which founded fashion chain Portmans in the 1940s, has raked in $22 million from the sale of two retail strip properties in Melbourne, with eager investors seemingly shrugging off concerns about the future impact of Amazon and online retailing on the bricks-and-mortar sector.

In the bigger of the two deals, the family sold the former headquarters of Portmans at 143-151 Bridge Road in Richmond for $14.11 million at auction on a very tight yield of 3.1 per cent – more than $3 million above the reserve.

It was bought by a wealthy local investor who saw off stiff competition from a Chinese underbidder and five other bidders. This was all despite the once popular discount fashion strip now boasting a vacancy rate of more than 20 per cent after an exodus of retailers in recent years.

The corner retail and office property sold fully-leased to blue-chip tenants including ANZ, Suncorp and Sony Music with long-term leases expiring in 2033, ruling out any redevelopment in the short or medium-term.

For many years it served as the national headquarters of Portmans. In 2002, brothers Barry and Norman Bloom sold the 86-store chain, which they inherited from their parents, to Just Jeans. It now forms part of retail billionaire Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments.

Commenting on the decision to sell the property, Barry Bloom said he felt it was insulated from much of the volatility on Bridge Road given its long leases to national tenants with surrounding residential developments adding density to the immediate area.

Strong results

In the second deal, the Bloom family sold a multi-tenanted corner retail property on Glenferrie Road in Malvern for $7.85 million at auction on a yield of about 3.5 per cent, more than 10 per cent above the reserve. Tenants include Flight Centre and Optus.

The Bridge Road property was marketed by Rorey James, Mark Wizel, Lewis Tong and Josh Rutman of CBRE. Michael Ryan, James Gregson and Joseph Walton sold the Glenferrie Road property.

Mr James said the very strong results highlighted the “very deep pool of investor demand for well leased, high quality retail investments”.

Mr Tong, who heads up CBRE’s Asian Services Team in Melbourne, said he continued to see strong appetite from Asian investors for income-producing assets with quality tenants.

Recent strong retail property sales have defied the gloom surrounding the sluggish trading sector.

Among them, the Kirby family, founder of Village Roadshow, sold a portfolio of Mornington Peninsula cinemas for almost $10 million on yields of 4.5 and six per cent.

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