West End landlord Shaftesbury has resumed final dividend payments after reporting a “remarkable bounce back in activity” across its portfolio.
The group, which owns retails, hospitality and office space in the heart of London’s West End, has been heavily impacted by the pandemic, but its chief executive Brian Bickell said in its annual results that footfall and spending was “well on the way to returning to, or in some cases already exceeding, their pre-pandemic levels”.
A final dividend of 4p per share has been recommended by the board. The value of its portfolio fell 5.4% on a like-for-like basis to £3.0bn, but encouragingly was up 5.2% in the second half of the year to 30 September 2021 (first half down 10.1%).
EPRA net tangible assets was down 15% to £6.19 due to the revaluation deficits and the impact of an equity raise in November 2020 (which was used to strengthen its balance sheet).
Shaftesbury, which owns about 600 buildings in areas such as Carnaby Street and Chinatown, said loss after tax for the year was £194.9m, compared to a loss of £699.5m the previous year.
Bickell said: “Freedom Day on 19 July marked the first time in 17 months that our 600+ hospitality and retail occupiers, and businesses across the West End, could begin to trade normally. What followed has been a remarkable bounce back in activity, as domestic visitors and workers returned, with footfall and spending in our villages well on the way to returning to, or in some cases already exceeding, their pre-pandemic levels.
“Our response to the economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic has been to support our occupiers and community and to work with our fellow West End stakeholders. Its success has been rewarded by the speedy recovery in footfall and trading across our villages, which in turn has enhanced their appeal to new businesses and residents and restored our occupancy levels. It is also an endorsement of our credentials as a long-term, responsible, supportive landlord and partner.
“There has been great progress on Shaftesbury’s road to recovery in recent months. Although there is still further to travel before certainty and confidence fully returns, we believe that the combination of our exceptional and adaptable portfolio, and our culture, people and relationships will deliver a sustained return to growth and prosperity, and ensure we live up to the expectations of our shareholders and other stakeholders, for many years to come.”
SHB : Shaftesbury resumes final dividend payment after “remarkable” bounce back in activity