// Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield affected by government measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19
// The shopping centre giant is reducing non-staff expenses & deferring non-essential capital expenditure
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has revealed in a market update that it has taken measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 which will impact its operations.
The shopping centre giant said its primary focus is on “protecting the health and safety of its employees, tenants, and visitors”.
Westfield added it was “carefully monitoring” the latest health guidelines issued by the World Health Organization, as well as national, regional and local governments and is adapting its operations accordingly.
At present, local authorities have required all non-essential stores to close in France, Spain, Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Westfield operates two shopping centres in the UK, but has a vast portfolio across mainland Europe – including the aforementioned countries where lockdowns are currently in place as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
“As such, the group’s shopping centres in these markets are substantially closed,” Westfield stated.
The two Westfield locations in London are open as normal for now, albeit with reduced footfall.
At this stage, the firm said it was “too early to determine the situation’s impact on the contractual obligations of the group’s retailers and other partners or to estimate the effect of any case-by-case support measures the group may decide on.”
Westfield stated it “has started an active dialogue with its tenants on how to address these unprecedented challenges”.
Shopping centre rivals Intu and Hammerson are also suffering at this time.
Hammerson’s market value fell to £1.21 billion last week and Intu posted a £2 billion loss in 2019, placing it on the verge of collapse if it did not secure emergency funding.
Westfield said it was “actively reducing non-staff expenses, deferring non-essential capital expenditure and will make use of any relevant facilities or arrangements provided by the various national authorities to assist companies through the crisis”.
It explained that considering the uncertainty around “this rapidly evolving situation and how long the above preventative measures will need to remain in place, it is not currently possible to estimate the extent of the impact on the group’s earnings”.