Leopard Capital has acquired a vast industrial and distribution estate adjacent to Leeds Bradford Airport for £25 million. This transaction represents one of North England’s largest property investments this year.

The estate, known as Leeds Bradford Airport Depot (LBAD), covers approximately 1.25 million sq ft within a 60-acre site. It consists of a single building structure and had been owned by Broadland Properties Group since 1969.

Broadland Properties was advised by Leeds property consultancy, GV&Co’s investment division, while Robin Bullas from Commercial Property Partners (CPP) represented Leopard Capital.

This investment marks Leopard Capital’s entry into Yorkshire. The London-based investment management and advisory firm specialises in sourcing and acquiring industrial assets across the UK and Europe. With this acquisition, Leopard Capital has now transacted 1.7 million sq ft of floor space across seven purchases.

LBAD is directly accessible from the A658 Harrogate Road and offers accommodation in 15 units, ranging from approximately 25,000 sq ft to 150,000 sq ft. Notable tenants include APCOA, VPK Packaging, Jet2, VLT Logistics, and Toyota Tsusho.

James Hill, director at Broadland Properties, confirms the Group made a bold speculative purchase of this vacant former aircraft factory some 55 years ago. He said: “After significant capital investment in the building, it became a true engine of growth, with a strong continuing income stream. With changing Group investment criteria and an ambitious acquisition pipeline, the time had come for Broadland Properties to pass this signature building into new ownership.”

Alex Fordyce, CEO of Leopard Capital, expressed excitement about the purchase, emphasising the structural undersupply of industrial space in the area; the expansion of the adjacent airport and an ambitious asset management program including ESG improvements which will drive value.

The vendor was advised by GV&Co’s investment division, while Robin Bullas from Commercial Property Partners (CPP) represented Leopard Capital.

Garry Howes, director of investment at GV&Co, said “LBAD is a unique, high-yield, multi-let investment opportunity with a rich trading history. The deal reflects confidence in the industrial sector and the North of England’s commercial property market.”

Robin Bullas highlighted various asset management strategies the site offers to drive rents and enhance the estate. He notes that deals like this signal a stronger 2024 as investors return to the regional market.

LBAD played a pivotal role in reinforcing Britain’s military strength in the sky during World War Two. It was originally built by the Avro Aircraft Company and between 1939 and 1946 it became a ‘shadow factory’ with its roof camouflaged in grass, complete with imitation farm buildings and dummy animals. This meant from the sky it looked like agricultural land rather than the largest industrial production centre in Europe, which it quickly evolved into.

The estate contributed to the war effort on a colossal scale with around 700 Lancaster Bombers and 4,500 Ansons built at the site by a 17,500 strong workforce. The remains of the taxiway from the factory to the main airfield, which later became Leeds Bradford Airport, are still visible.

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