// Hammerson & British Land collect just 16% of rent it was due for the third quarter
// However, both firms ae confident about a rebound now that shops have reopened
British Land and Hammerson have sought to assure over an improving picture in the hard-hit retail sector, but revealed ongoing difficulties for retailers to meet rent demands.
The firms – which own Meadowhall in Sheffield, and Birmingham’s Bullring and Brent Cross in north London respectively – said it had collected just 16 per cent of third quarter rent in the UK.
However, they gave hope of a bounceback for retailers knocked by the coronavirus lockdown.
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British Land confirmed 64 per cent (or 894) of stores across its sites in England are now open and have seen sales surge 91 per cent over the first week of reopening.
The updates come less than a week after Trafford Centre and Lakeside owner Intu tumbled into administration after failed talks with its lenders.
Intu – which runs 17 shopping centres across the country – had struggled under a £4.5 billion debt burden for the past year, and was hammered by significantly lower rent payments from retail tenants since the coronavirus outbreak.
In its update, Hammerson said it was “confident that collection rates will continue to improve materially in all regions as agreements are progressed with brands”.
It also announced it had been able to secure some breathing space from lenders and accessed the UK Government’s coronavirus support scheme to bolster its balance sheet.
The firm said 73 per cent of UK rent had been collected for the first half of the year.
British Land said footfall and sales were encouraging for English retail tenants since the lockdown restrictions allowed non-essential shops to open from June 15.
“We expect the best-located open-air retail parks to perform an important role in retailers’ reopening strategies, and this was reflected in positive like-for-like sales for out-of-town stores open in England versus the same week last year,” it said.
The group is also negotiating rents with shops on a case-by-case basis, agreeing rental waivers of £3 million in relation to the June quarter in addition to £2 million for the March quarter.
“This is an ongoing process and so we expect the collection rates for June to improve over the coming weeks,” British Land said.
with PA Wires