London real estate giant Shaftesbury Capital PLC has reported a “strong start” to the Christmas trading period in its latest financial statement, as high footfall bolsters sales across its properties.
For the period starting July 1 to November 15, 2023, footfall throughout its prime portfolio in London’s West End brought in a sales aggregate of 12 percent above 2022 levels, and 16 percent above 2019 figures.
The company also reported a “sustained demand” across its leasing activity in the second half of the year, with 220 transactions representing 15.6 million pounds of rent, up 6 percent from June 30, 2023.
In the year to date, Shaftesbury Capital has completed 440 leasing transactions, 9 percent ahead of December 31, 2022, totalling 30.2 million pounds of rent.
In a release, Ian Hawksworth, chief executive officer of the group, said: "Our excellent performance has continued into the second half, with a strong start to the Christmas trading period. The West End is one of the most vibrant global destinations with an unrivalled concentration of entertainment and cultural attractions.
“Despite the uncertain macroeconomic backdrop, our prime West End portfolio continues to demonstrate its resilience and appeal. Backed by our strong balance sheet, we look forward with confidence with a focus on delivering further growth and attractive returns as the leading central London mixed-use REIT [real estate investment trust]."
Rental growth and cost control remain focus
Over the period, the company said that its focus has remained on reaching a rental growth target of 5 to 7 percent per annum, as well as cost control and cash conversion, all following the completion of an integration earlier this year.
In March, it was revealed that landlords Shaftesbury and Capital & Counties were to come together in an all-share merger to form a new combined property group – Shaftesbury Capital – with the goal of improving long-term returns, liquidity and operational platform.
With this latest report, the firm reported that it continues to “maintain a strong balance sheet with a focus on resilience, flexibility and efficiency”, including “significant headroom” in regards to debt covenants and access to liquidity.
Group net debt was 1.5 billion pounds. A 200 million pound loan was secured in August 2023 to repay part of its 576 million pounds unsecured facility, maturing in December 2024. The firm noted that it was in advanced discussions regarding a new medium-term bank loan.