Hammerson cautiously optimistic despite poor retail climate

BULLRING co-owner Hammerson says Birmingham’s flagship shopping centre is performing well.

In an interim management statement for the period from July 1 to November 8, the property investment firm reported that, across its UK shopping centre portfolio, tenants’ sales increased by 3.2%, notwithstanding a small decline in footfall of 1.1% compared to Q3 2011.

Hammerson now focuses exclusively on retail having sold £627m of office property and reinvested £551m in retail assets since February

It reports “robust” operational results with occupancy of 97.3% at September 30.
And future prospects look good with a healthy development pipeline. Leases signed with retailers included one with Debenhams for a 5,575m2 store at Elliott’s Field, Rugby.

David Atkins, Hammerson chief executive, said: “I’m delighted to have completed the transition to a retail focused company just nine months after announcing our revised strategy.

“We sold over £600m of office properties above book value, and have redeployed £551m of proceeds into prime retail locations in our chosen specialist sectors.

“In addition, we are making excellent progress with our developments, and our strong operational performance demonstrates that high quality properties in winning retail locations are continuing to deliver positive results.”

The firm signed 134 new leases in the period including Ugg at Bullring.

There were 73 units in administration at 30 September 2012, broadly unchanged since the half year, of which 50 were still trading.

Hammerson says it remains cautious about the overall economic outlook in the UK and Europe.

“However, we have a portfolio of modern, well-located retail properties which offer consumers leisure, catering and multi-channel capabilities. These assets continue to attract both domestic and international retailers, which gives us confidence in our ability to grow underlying rental income,” it said.

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