No more rent holidays says shopping centre owner Hammerson

Hammerson-owned Bullring Birmingham

Commercial property owner Hammerson has warned its tenants that it will no longer offer rent concessions to retailers and other businesses hit by the pandemic.

The owner of the Birmingham Bullring and London’s Brent Cross said “all avenues to collect rents due are being pursued”.

During the pandemic, Hammerson said £26m in rents were waived, written off or still not yet due for 2020, with £15m in the same situation so far this year.

Hammerson’s announcement came as the company revealed that it has still only managed to collect 62% of the £154m rents due so far this year and 89% of the £264m due in 2020.

Around 68% of rent due for the first half of the current year and 47% of initial rent for the third quarter has arrived – up from the same point a year ago, they added.

Hammerson said the easing of some Covid restrictions since the company’s last update on 20 April has seen an increase in customers heading to its shopping centres, but restaurants, cinemas and other leisure activities continue to suffer.

Footfall numbers are between 70% and 80% of 2019 levels, although this fell from an initial spike immediately after non-essential retailers and leisure services reopened in April and May.

Independently recorded footfall figures and retail sales data across the sector have shown that people are preferring to head to retail parks, with shopping centres failing to win over as many customers with restrictions eased.

Hammerson said: “Many retailers continue to report high sales and conversion rates as visitors shop with purpose.

“These trends have been particularly positive in France during the first few days of the summer sales period.”

The company also pointed out that additional Covid restrictions have been announced in France, where it has a portfolio of shopping centres, but added: “It is too early to assess the operational impact.”

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