Supermarket giant Woolworths has stepped up plans to expand its store network and has emerged as the buyer of 10 Caltex service station properties the oil company sold across Australia last week in a larger $136m deal.

Melbourne-based residential developer Oliver Hume picked up another 12 Caltex sites and the remainder of the 25-strong portfolio went to smaller players.

Woolworths already has a convenience retail tie-up with Caltex but the latest buying is separate and is directed at growing its supermarket holdings.

“As retail continues to evolve and our customers increasingly look for more convenient shopping locations, we’ve had the opportunity to acquire a portfolio of property assets,” a Woolworths spokeswoman said.

The purchasing by the supermarket chain accounted for much of the portfolio of 25 properties Caltex offered, with 15 sites sold in NSW, eight in Victoria, and one each in Queensland and WA.

The deals were brokered by CBRE’s Mark Wizel and Julian White and Stonebridge’s Lincoln Blackledge.

Across the portfolio, there were more than 2000 inquiries and 160 offers, with Mr Wizel saying developers were attracted by strong locations, the lack of development sites and predictions of housing undersupply.

Major companies including Stockland and Mirvac have warned an undersupply of units could emerge.

“Given widely forecast predictions of a looming undersupply of apartments, purchasing one or more of these sites was an ideal way to build a pipeline to cater to pent-up demand while generating an attractive income in the interim,” Mr Wizel said.

Confidence is back for residential developers after what he called a “surprisingly quick” rebound in housing prices.

Caltex chief development officer David Bridger said the portfolio of 50 petrol stations had been identified as having a better non-fuel-related use.

“Given the success of this first tranche of sites we are very confident in putting to market another 25 sites across Australia early next year,’’ Mr Bridger said.

Petrol stations have been sold in Surfers Paradise, Bondi, Mascot, Box Hill and Perth.

Extracted from The Australian