Vicinity Centres is focusing on expanding its presence into factory outlets and has revamped its DFO Homebush site. Photo: Fiona MorrisInvestors will have snapped up more than $2 billion in retail properties before the end of the 2016 financial year and the changing landlords are sparking a round of leasing musical chairs in capital cities.

The assets are popular as they generate large returns not just from tenants’ sales but also car-parking fees, food-court sales and cinema revenue. These different revenue streams also help to boost profits when the retailers are facing lower sales due to the unseasonably warm autumn across the country.

Retail experts have said they are are expecting the apparel stores will be forced into an early round of deep discounting in the next few weeks as they try to shift unsold jumpers, coats and boots to make way for spring fashion.

Asset sales range from inner-city sites to suburban-based centres, including the recent sale by Vicinity Centres of $924.6 million of malls in the past few months as part of its strategy to focus on core and development assets.

On Thursday, Vicinity announced it planned to sell a smaller tranche of assets in the coming weeks, consistent with its forecasts for $1.01 billion of disposals.

That includes an in-principle agreement to sell a 25 per cent stake in the Myer Centre Brisbane and a 50 per cent interest in Mornington Central, both to unlisted property fund manager ISPT for $224.6 million.

ISPT holds the other 50 per cent stake in Myer Brisbane.

Vicinity chief executive Angus McNaughton said: “With a range of portfolio-enhancing opportunities available to us through investment in our development pipeline and selective acquisitions, including continued expansion in the Outlet Centre space, we are extending the size of our asset divestment program.”

The site at 345 George Street, Sydney is also set for an upgrade by owner ISPT, while Charter Hall’s 333 George Street  is nearing completion, with National Australia Bank and HSBC securing the ground-level retailing.

Leif Olson, head of retail brokerage and leasing Australia at CBRE, said demand was strong for retail space in the cities as retailers competed for space from new food entrants, international brands, banks and tech giants Microsoft and Apple.

“These changes in owners will spark some tenancy remixing, which will be great for consumers and give CBD retail a boost across the country,” Mr Olson said.

“There is now a focus on George Street in Sydney now that Pitt Street Mall has been completed with the new entrants.”

In Melbourne, T-shirt manufacturer AS Colour has committed to the flagship store at 230 Chapel Street, Prahan.

The 130-square-metre shop was recently vacated by Alpha 60 and leased at $90,000 with a short rent-free period. The leasing deal was brokered by CBRE Melbourne’s Samantha Hunt and Zelman​ Ainsworth.

Mr Ainsworth, CBRE’s head of Victorian retail leasing, said the deal breathed confidence back into Chapel Street after a period of limited notable leasing deals.

He said retailers were refocusing their interest on Chapel Street.

“The confidence from retailers is mostly driven by the massive residential growth in the precinct. Windsor, Prahran and South Yarra are the most highly sought-after suburbs for young professionals,” Mr Ainsworth said. “The developments in the precinct have smaller living areas, which is encouraging residents to fully utilise the cafes, restaurants, grocers and bars in the area.”

CBRE’s Ms Hunt said retailers were noticing a change in the way customers interacted with retail and had been adapting their businesses.

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