Burlington Arcade on the market for £400m

Burlington Arcade
Burlington Arcade

Britain’s oldest shopping arcade, Burlington Arcade in London’s Mayfair, has been put on the market by its owners for £400m.

According to The Sunday Times, Thor Equities, run by New York real estate tycoon Joseph Sitt, and private property investment group Meyer Bergman have hired agents to sell the historic arcade for £400m.

Thor and Meyer Bergman acquired the arcade from an Irish family for £104m in 2010 and since then have refurbished it, including the installation of new stone floors and restoration of its arches, and attracted a number of new luxury tenants, including Chanel, Vilebrequin, lingerie brand Eres and Manolo Blahnik.

Historically the arcade has been known for its jewellers and watchmakers and is still home to many historic names in the field including Hancocks (which produced the design for the first Victoria Cross medal in 1856 and has produced every single one of the 1,350 of the military awards that have been awarded to this day), Johnson Walker, Richard Ogden and Tessier, as well as newer names such as Milleperle and Carat.

The sale is being handled by CBRE which told The Sunday Times that the owners are hoping to cash in on London’s new status as the world’s luxury shopping capital following the decision to leave the EU and the subsequent slump in the value of sterling, which makes it attractive to wealthy tourists.

Burlington Arcade joins Burlington Gardens with Piccadilly and runs parallel with Bond Street. It was built in 1819 when Lord George Cavendish commissioned architect Samuel Ware to build a covered promenade of shops next to his home, Burlington House, which is now the Royal Academy.

Lord Cavendish was said to have been motivated to do so to prevent “ruffians” from throwing rubbish onto his property but the official line given was that he wanted to create the arcade “for the gratification of the public and to give employment to industrious females“.

Of the original 47 leaseholders, six were “industrious females”, but according to the rules of the time even the male milliners and corsetieres based in the arcade were referred to as “Madame”. The families who ran the original two-storey stores often lived beneath them in cramped conditions which they shared with their stock.

To this day the arcade visitors to the arcade, which has appeared in a number of Hollywood films and attracted a number of its stars as shoppers (Ingrid Bergman and Fred Astaire both shopped there), are welcomed by uniformed Beadles.