Nov 29, 2022
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Rapid rebound in London West End's economy lifts Shaftesbury’s year

Nov 29, 2022

When a company’s results statement opens with an upbeat message, what generally follows is news of a business on the rise. And property giant Shaftesbury, which owns a 16.4-acre portfolio in the heart of London's West End, is no exception, judging by its results for the year.

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Over to chief executive Brian Bickell: “The year has seen a rapid rebound in the West End economy as Covid-related disruption receded and patterns of everyday activity returned to pre-pandemic normality. The sustained recovery in footfall and trading since the early months of 2022 has been matched by the strength of occupier demand in our carefully curated and popular locations.”

In a nutshell, Shaftesbury is enjoying a strong bounce-back in footfall and consumer spending while seeing sustained occupier demand across all its uses, underpinned by a return to pre-pandemic occupancy.

And unlike many of its major peers, Shaftesbury said Tuesday that it swung to a pre-tax profit for fiscal 2022, primarily on gains from the revaluation of investment properties, while net property income rose 28%.

The real-estate investment trust (REIT) delivered a pre-tax profit of £119.1 million for the year ended September 30, compared with a £194.9 million loss a year earlier. The company said the increase was primarily driven by a swing to a £99.5 million revaluation gain, from a £196.9 million deficit, and improved net property income, partly offset by one-off costs related to its merger with Capital & Counties Properties (Capco).

The trust also said net property income rose to £82.8 million from £64.7 million and rent collection standing at 99%, “back to pre-pandemic levels”.

Meanwhile, tenants reported average monthly sales now 6% ahead of pre-pandemic levels – with both retail and hospitality up 6%. There were also an additional 59 new hospitality and retail lettings during the year to add in.

And its outlook?  Bickell added: “The actions we took in 2020 and 2021 to support our occupiers and protect our portfolio have been rewarded with a rapid return to normal operating conditions in our locations over the last 12 months, and a much-improved financial performance.

He also added: “Although London and the West End cannot be immune from the unprecedented range of challenges which are now dominating the national outlook, their long-term prospects remain bright, thanks to their enduring appeal to global, domestic and local visitors, businesses and investors, their dynamic economies and ability to attract talent and creativity from across the world.”

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