Global commercial property company Westfield Group has today announced that at the end of its first quarter 96.9 per cent of its worldwide portfolio was successfully leased.
Against the backdrop of a poor domestic trading environment, the firm’s flagship UK shopping centre Westfield London saw retail sales grow by 19.8 per cent year-on-year in the three months to March 31st 2011.
Trading has slowed over the quarter however with sales up to the start of April growing 23.3 per cent over a 12-month period but shops in the centre are still seeing better business growth then most retailers in the UK.
Westfield is keen to point out that during the same three-month period, the whole UK industry saw sales grow just 0.9 per cent in total and fall 0.8 per cent like-for-like compared to 2010, according to data produced by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG.
The company currently has eight retail centres in the UK with 1,281 outlets and as of the end of March occupancy for these sites stood at 99.2 per cent, higher than the group average, although average speciality store rent had declined in the country by 3.5 per cent year-on-year.
Construction of a new London shopping centre, Westfield Stratford, is currently under way at a cost of £1.45 billion and the company has reported that work towards its opening in September 2011 is progressing well.
John Burton, Development Director at Westfield Stratford, told Retail Gazette yesterday: “If we continue at the current rate all retail space will be let at the new shopping centre when it opens.
“We’re in good health compared to other major property players.”
Westfield Stratford could create as many as 14,000 new permanent jobs according to economists Volterra Consulting, an important recruitment driver during a period with very few major retail schemes due to be built in the UK in the new few years.
During 2011 Westfield expects to commence with between $750 million (£461 million) and $1 billion of development projects worldwide and the group, which also has centres in the US, Australia and New Zealand, is currently undertaking pre-development activity on approximately $10 billion of future development opportunities.