According to the Shaftesbury CEO, smaller tenants are more resilient than big players


By Aby Jose Koilparambil

(Reuters) – UK commercial real estate chief Shaftesbury said Tuesday that independent, small tenants were more resilient than multinational companies and large retail and hospitality chains during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The trust, which invests in London, posted a half-year after-tax loss of £ 338.5 million ($ 480 million). For the first time since 2009, the six months to March saw two straight losses, including the festive peak season for non-customer -essential retailers.

Commercial real estate firms, which have been hard hit by non-material retailers and hospitality firms, are among the hardest hit properties in the UK property sector, with large valuation deficits, lower customer traffic and declining rental income.

“The big retail and restaurant chains have lost space because they honestly used too much of it in good times,” Brian Bickell told Reuters.

He said independent companies, which made up most of Shaftesbury’s tenant base, are more determined to come back and resilient than multinational corporations and big chains that “just drop rooms whenever they want”.

The trust, which owns 600 buildings in the city’s West End, said its EPRA net worth – a measure of the value of its buildings per share – fell 21.5% to £ 5.83 during the valuation of its wholly owned portfolio fell 10.1% to 2.8 billion pounds.

Last week, pubs and restaurants reopened their indoor spaces, and movie theaters and hotels resumed operations after non-essential retail stores opened their doors in mid-April – all as part of the government’s gradual exit from pandemic restrictions.

“Since reopening on April 12, we’ve seen encouraging increases in demand for space and rentals, as well as a return in visitor numbers and spending at our locations,” Bickell said in a statement.

($ 1 = 0.7054 pounds)

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and David Clarke)

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