Buyers of shopping centre assets have reverted to a core specialist group of investors.

Speaking at CB Richard Ellis’ European Retail Review at MAPIC, John Welham, CBRE’s head of European retail investment said the number of investors in the market to acquire shopping centres had shrunk.

’Ten years ago we had only specialised investors buying shopping centres. Then that community expanded enormously and it became difficult to predict who the buyer of a shopping centre would be.

’Today that shopping centre buying community has gone back to the hardcore group of specialists that see this market as an opportunity to acquire some of the best assets.’

Welham said that today’s shopping centre investors were ’100% equity buyers’.

’There is a lot of equity in this market - it’s just looking to do the right deals at the right time,’ added Welham.

However, research from CBRE found that there was plenty of cross-border activity. In the first six months of 2008, international buyers accounted for almost 60% of European retail activity. This represents an increase on 2007, where overseas buyers accounted for 55% of activity.

Welham added: ’The active buyers in the retail investment market have been mixed, but specialist retail funds like Henderson and PREF and some of the German open-ended funds have made acquisitions. Even unlikely buyers such as listed property companies, who in the current market conditions have been selling to raise equity, have come through as buyers of the right product. This was illustrated recently by both the Klépierre deal with Steen & Strom and Unibail-Rodamco’s acquisitions in Spain.’