One of Britain’s biggest shopping centre-owners, intu, is expected to announce a slump in revenue after enforced store closures.
Sky News has learnt that intu Properties, which owns Lakeside in Essex and Manchester’s Trafford Centre, will disclose that the coronavirus pandemic has triggered in what should be one of its most lucrative weeks of the year.
Retail industry sources said on Wednesday evening that intu was preparing to disclose in a stock exchange announcement that it had received little more than 30% of the rent it was owed by tenants.
The decline in rent paid to intu comes after revelations by Sky News during the past week that Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, which owns TopShop, the fast-food chain Burger King and B&Q-owner Kingfisher planned to withhold or restructure their rental payments on Wednesday’s so-called quarter day. Debenhams, Superdry and Primark are among the other chains which have disclosed that they would seek rent holidays of varying lengths as British non-food retailing becomes an online-only activity for the foreseeable future.
intu is an important player in some of the UK’s largest regional economies. The company employs 2,300 people directly, but a further 102,000 people are employed in its 17 UK shopping centres – a figure that equates to 3% of the total UK retail industry workforce. At its Metro Centre mall in Gateshead, the headcount comprises 7.5% of the entire local workforce, while that figure rises to 8% at Lakeside.
intu had been forced to warn that its future as a going concern was in doubt even before the pandemic hit the UK. The company, which has been trying to raise £1.3b in equity to strengthen its balance sheet, recently reported a £2b loss.
Major retail landlords such as intu and rival Hammerson have yet to be afforded any specific assistance from the government.