Hammerson profits nosedive 80% as it unveils plan addressing shareholder anger

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Hammerson shareholders

Hammerson is cutting down the size of its board and selling off its retail parks as part of the shopping centre giant’s new strategic plan in a bid to pacify angry shareholders.

The Birmingham Bullring operator made the announcement alongside its half year results, which showed pre-tax profit plunging 80 per cent to £55.8 million over the six months to June 30.

Revenue for the period was also down from £160.1 million to £152.5 million.

As part of its new strategic plan, Hammerson said it would reduce the number of executive directors from four to two, as well as set a disposal target of £1.1 billion by the end of 2019.

It has already reached £300 million in disposals this year and has increased its overall target for 2018 to £600 million.

It will also aim to diversify the geography of its property holdings, with non-UK retail exposure set to increase by around 10 per cent.

Additionally, Hammerson is launching a share buyback programme worth £300 million, as well as aim to cut costs by around £7 million per year.

As part of the board reduction, chief investment officer Peter Cole and executive director Jean-Philippe Mouton will both step down from the board at the end of the year.

“Through increasing the level of disposals, including exiting the retail parks sector, we will now focus solely on winning destinations of the highest quality: Flagship retail destinations and premium outlets,” chief executive David Atkins said.

“These are the venues we believe will maintain relevance and outperform against the shifting retail backdrop.

“Our customer and retailer offer will be amplified, and this includes a step change in our retailer line up.”

He added: “We will reduce the amount of floor space let to department stores and high street fashion as we actively focus on the latest consumer trends and take bolder steps to provide the best retail mix.

“Our results today demonstrate the resilience of our business. We are taking tough decisions and have absolute conviction in our ability to deliver.

“By reprioritising our capital deployment and repositioning our portfolio, we will accelerate future shareholder value and returns.”

The news comes a day after it was revealed that Hammerson had sold two retail parks for £164 million as part of its wider strategic plan.

The shopping centre giant confirmed it exchanged contracts for both the Imperial Retail Park in Bristol and the Fife Central Retail Park in Kirkcaldy.

It also comes after timultuous year for the firm, which ditched a £3.4 billion deal to acquire rival Intu, which would’ve made it the biggest property firm in the UK with £21 billion worth of assets across Europe.

Meanwhile, French shopping centre firm Klepierre walked away from a potential deal with Hammerson, where it tabled a £5.04 billion proposal worth 635p per share.

Aside from the Bullring, other notable assets in Hammerson’s portfolio include Cabot Circus in Bristol, Victoria Gate in Leeds, Westquay in Southampton and Brent Cross in London.

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