Shaftesbury has reported a widening loss, but the Chinatown landlord’s boss predicted the West End will “really come alive” when the last stage of the lockdown roadmap is reached.
Brian Bickell said he is expecting plenty of day trips and staycations in central London this Summer as people look for breaks here and as travel abroad remains uncertain.
He also said: “It will be hugely important to have the office population back, and shops and hospitality trading at full capacity.” That is hoped for from June 21. “The West End will really come alive when the last of the government’s roadmap is done.”
Most retail and restaurant tenants across Shaftesbury’s estate were only able to open for a limited period in the six months to March 31 due to lockdowns. During the virus crisis the firm has offered rent holidays, deferrals and moves to monthly rents in some cases.
Rental income in the first half was £48.9 million compared with £60.4 million a year earlier, while Shaftesbury posted a £338.5 million pretax loss, widened from a £287.6 million loss.
The FTSE 250 company said the value of its wholly owned property portfolio over the half dropped 10.1%, or £ 293 million, on a like-for-like basis to £2.8 billion. Retail and hospitality assets saw the steepest declines.
Bickell pointed to encouraging trends, such as good occupier demand to open across the estate, and a welcome return of footfall and spending since ‘non essential’ retailers were allowed to reopen stores on April 12.
He added that forecasts point to a sharp rebound in the UK economy, although the chief executive cautioned “there remains the risk that the recovery could encounter delays and setbacks in the period ahead”.