NEWS

Shopping centre owner Landsec lays plans for higher vacancy rates

Published on: 13th May 2020

The company has cut the value of its portfolio by £1.2b.

Landsec, which owns shopping centres including the Trinity Leeds shopping mall and Bluewater in Kent, has warned that the economy is unlikely to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic until at least 2022.

The company is preparing for more empty units at its shopping centres and offices, and has said that its retail portfolio has lost more than 20% of its value, with regional assets worst affected, such as the Westgate Oxford mall, which is down 28%. This has pushed the firm deeper into the red, with its loss before tax rising to £837m from £123m the previous year.

Four of Landsec’s shopping centres are shut completely – Braintree Village in Essex, Hatfield Galleria in Hertfordshire, Junction 32 in Castleford, Yorkshire and Clarks Village in Somerset. The vast majority of its office tenants’ employees are now working from home, with less than 10% of its office space being used. Only 38% of rent due on 25th March and 1st April has been collected compared with 90% for the same period last year. Rent collection rates in June are expected to be even worse. The company anticipates a recession in 2021 and higher inflation from next April, along with a 75% slump in retail rents and a 20% fall in office rents.

Landsec’s chief executive, Mark Allan, said: “While it is too early to predict outcomes with any certainty, it seems prudent to plan for more business failures and higher vacancy rates across our portfolio, in particular leisure and retail, and we don’t expect to see the economy recover to pre-Covid-19 levels before 2022 at the earliest.”

The company has set up an £80m rent relief fund to support its tenants, particularly cafes, bars and restaurants and small businesses, and is offering rent deferrals and monthly payments.

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