The strong showing contrasted sharply with another agency's portfolio auction held in the same venue two days earlier where investors turned their backs on the previously red-hot childcare sector, rejecting six out of the seven centres offered.
"These are prime properties," Allard Shelton auctioneer Joseph Walton told a room full of buyers as he outlined the merits of the Cohen family's portfolio in Ascot Vale, Campbellfield, North Geelong and Caulfield South.
The first Melbourne shop to go under the hammer, a prominent semi-circular-shaped store on the corner of Mt Alexander and Ormond roads in Ascot Vale, attracted a frenzy of 108 bids before it sold for $7.27 million on a tight yield of 3 per cent. It was followed by another corner site at 484 Melbourne Road, North Geelong, which saw four buyers lob 97 bids before it fell to an investor for $4.21 million on a 4 per cent yield. A large, 1400 square metre store on the Hume Highway in Campbellfield sold for $2.8 million on a 7.3 per cent yield while another hotly-contested property on Hawthorn Road in Caulfield South fetched $7.9 million, the tightest yield of the day at 2.6 per cent.
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All the shops were on land-rich sites with future development potential. They were leased to Godfreys on five-year terms, returning total income of more than $1.25 million a year. The Cohen family and their 100-year-old co-founder, John Johnston, sold Godfreys in 2006 to private equity firms Pacific Equity Partners and Unitas Capital for more than $300 million.
The company, which operates 200 stores across Australia and New Zealand, struggled with large debts after being listed on the ASX. Mr Johnston's Arcade Finance brought it back in June this year for around $13 million.
Mr Walton said the properties had fetched yields that were more common at the peak of the market 12 months ago. "This speaks volumes about the underlying strength for prime opportunities," he said.
In total, seven properties were put on the market. Two strata shops in Adelaide, one tenanted by Godfreys, sold on Wednesday for $660,000.