Shoppers return to Capital & Regional centres


Shoppers return to Capital & Regional centres


Published Date: 2020-12-18 | Source: Stephen Gunnion | Author: Stephen Gunnion

Shoppers return to Capital & Regional centres

The community focused mall owner says almost all its stores have reopened following the most recent lockdown in England.

Capital & Regional says consumers have flocked back to its shopping centres around London since a second national lockdown was eased on 2 December. It's also working on solutions for the space let to Debenhams in case the beleaguered department store chain is forced to close its doors.

In a trading update, C&R, which is majority owned by Growthpoint Properties, said 98% of stores across its seven community focused centres were back open and trading. During the lockdown about 38% remained open including both retailers providing essential goods and services and those operating click and collect operations. Footfall for the 12 days since the end of the lockdown was up 24% on the 12 days immediately before - equivalent to about 77% of the same period last year. It said this was particularly encouraging as it had reduced capacity in order to maintain social distancing and was using social media to let customers know of the best times to visit.

C&R said it had made good progress in improving rent collections having received 73% of all rents that had fallen due from 25 March. That's up from 56% on 15 October. Amicable agreements had been reached with a number of retail tenants including modest concessions in return for the full settlement of rent arrears and service charge obligations.

By the end of last month, it had completed 37 new lettings and renewals, with a pipeline of more than 20 deals. Its three Debenhams stores were at risk of becoming vacant if the chain ceased trading in the coming months and it was looking at short and long-term solutions for the space that would become vacant as a result. The retailer went into liquidation on 1 December 1 when JD Sports pulled out of talks to acquire the business as part of a sales process.

At the end of last week, the group had total cash on balance sheet of £79.3 million, equivalent to more than one year's gross revenue. Of this about £60 million was held centrally without any restriction.

Results for the year to end-December are scheduled for release on 4 March. Its shares rose 10% to R14.29 in a single trade yesterday. Growthpoint closed 2.2% higher at R13.19.


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