Millionaire snaps up John Lewis building for £270,000

The Norco House building on George Street

THE millionaire property developer who purchased Aberdeen’s Bon Accord Centre has snapped up the neighbouring John Lewis building for just £270,000.

The iconic Norco House building has been sold to a company owned by Zakir Issa, a sibling of the billionaire brothers who own Asda.

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Transaction documents seen by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce confirm the property has changed hands for £270,000, which is a fraction of the £14.3million paid for the building just 12 years ago in 2011.

The deal follows Mr Issa’s cut-price purchase of the Bon Accord Centre – once valued at over £200million – which he is understood to have acquired for under £10million.

The John Lewis building, which is now more than 50 years old, extends to more than 200,000sqft over five floors, has had an uncertain future since John Lewis shut up shop in 2021.

The building is one of the most distinctive properties to be erected in Aberdeen since World War II.

It is said to represent the last wave of independent, stand-alone department store design in Scotland prior to the emergence of shopping centres.

The property at 88 George Street dates back to 1966 when the Northern Co-operative Society’s Norco building was built as a “modernist showpiece” after the original Victorian Co-op was demolished.

When John Lewis Partnership acquired the property in the late 1980s, it was described as a “golden opportunity”.

For long spells, the store was very successful thanks to the strength of the local economy.

The decision to shut their only Scottish store north of the central belt resulted in the loss of 265 jobs.

Who is Zakir Issa?

Mr Issa’s company, EP Properties, has a commercial property portfolio across the UK, with the only other Scottish site being Blantyre Industrial Estate near Glasgow.

The company’s website says it is a UK-based investment company which specialises in acquiring, letting and selling commercial property.

The company is based in Blackburn and has a property portfolio which currently spans 6.5million sq ft, making it one of the UK’s largest privately-owned real estate investment companies.

Mr Issa has yet to reveal what his plans are for the John Lewis building and Bon Accord Centre are.

Aberdeen City Council co-leader Ian Yuill has previously suggested that the “only option” for its long-term future would be demolition.

But there remains hope it could have a new lease of life, with planners last year drawing up a range of options for the landmark structure.

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