A Scottish shopping centre has been sold for about the price of an average house in some areas of the country, in the latest sign of the crisis in UK retail.
The Postings mall in Kirkcaldy, in which 14 of the 21 shops lie empty, was sold for £310,000 to an unnamed bidder on Tuesday.
The City pension fund Columbia Threadneedle Investments put the property up for auction with a minimum price of £1 after losing about £200,000 a year on the property.
Like many other small and ageing shopping centres around the country the Postings mall, in Gordon Brown’s former constituency, has fallen on hard times. It took a major blow in 2015 when Tesco closed its supermarket in the mall which doubled as the town’s post office. Now more than half of the shops that do have tenants are occupied by charitable ventures.
Bidding started at £10 for the shopping centre, which cost £4.25m to build and opened in 1981.
Duncan Moir, an auctioneer for Allsop which handled the sale, said there had been at least six bidders. Several interested parties present in the room at the Berkeley hotel in central London lost out to a bidder on the phone, understood to be an investor from the north of England. The deal is set to be completed by 15 February.
The successful bidder will have to pick up at least £5,000 in legal fees.
One bidder in the room told the Guardian “someone’s got themselves a lot of bother”.
But George Walker, a partner and auctioneer at Allsop, said he was delighted with the sale.
“We have never had this much interest in a lot,” he said, saying that about 100 parties registered an interest in bidding.
“This centre is largely vacant and is an old piece of real estate where shopping habits have changed. It costs about £200,00 a year to own and our clients bought it to earn money.”