Morrison is to open a 920,000 sq ft distribution centre at G. Park Sittingbourne in Kent. The development will be split across two units at the site and will be used by Morrisons to service and supply its South East stores and will provide up to 1,000 new jobs for local people.
It has signed a pre-let with Gazeley and Standard Life Investment Funds – thought to be the South East’s biggest ever pre-let. Morrisons has agreed to take a 20 year lease with an approximate rent across the two buildings of £5.4m a year.
James Brook, development surveyor at Morrisons, said: “We selected this site primarily because of its strategic location and close links to the South East motorway network but also because of the unbeatable environmental credentials which Gazeley has been able to offer. The environmental agenda and CSR are key considerations for our business going forward and this was an important factor in our decision to choose this site to develop our next warehouse and distribution centre.”
Included in the plans for the site are a number of environmental technologies such as kinetic plates in the estate roads, which will generate power from every vehicle moving in and out of the site.
Other eco-friendly measures including rain water harvesting and recycling, energy efficient lighting, low water use appliances and FSC approved timber will also provide massive operational cost savings for Morrisons over the lifetime of the building, while proving that environmental steps can impact positively on a company’s bottom line.
G. Park Sittingbourne is part of a Joint Venture between Gazeley and Standard Life Investment Funds Limited. The two companies have outline planning permission for 1.8 million sq ft of warehouse and distribution space at the site in Kent, but the development for Morrisons will be the first unit to begin construction at the park.
Savills, GVA Grimley and CBRE represented Standard Life Investment Funds Limited. and Gazeley in the deal.
Gazeley, one of the UK’s leading warehousing developers, has been put up for sale. Wal-Mart has retained UBS to explore strategic options, including a sale, for the business.
Andy Bond, president and chief executive of Asda, Wal-Mart’s UK subsidiary, said: “This is not a core business for us. For Gazeley to maintain and extend its market leadership, we believe it should be part of an organisation that specialises in property development and investment, which can better support its international growth.
Gazeley was founded in 1987 and made its name developing Magna Park near Lutterworth. Since then it has created a series of sites based on the Magna Park concept around the world. In total it has developed more than 50 million square feet of warehousing.
In October 2004 it launched its EcoTemplate, following two years of research costing some £660,000 and now uses this in all its warehouse buildings.
Gazeley is the preferred developer of distribution space for Wal-Mart International, including Asda in the UK and Wal-Mart China.
“Gazeley’s growth has exceeded our expectations and the business has evolved into a global brand with an impressive track record of developing distribution space in a customer friendly and environmentally responsible way,” said Bond.
“We have previously had several unsolicited approaches for Gazeley and have now decided to review our strategic options, which might include a sale of the business. In the event we do decide to sell the business, we expect to continue our long-term relationship with Gazeley as a client.”
Patrick McGillycuddy, chief executive of Gazeley said: “We have produced consistent profit growth over the last five years and developed leased warehouses across Europe in 2007 with an investment value of £325m. We have a successful business model and a strong management team that will add value to any new business partner.”