Mall operator Hammerson warns footfall remains below pre-crisis levels By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk near the Bullring Shopping Center, owned by shopping center operator Hammerson, in Birmingham, Britain November 4, 2020. REUTERS / Andrew Boyers

By Aby José Koilparambil

(Reuters) – UK shopping center operator Hammerson reported improvement in adjusted first-half profits from a crisis in 2020, but warned on Thursday that footfall has yet to rebound to pre-market levels. pandemic.

Hammerson, like other mall operators who are heavily exposed to non-essential retail tenants, has been battered by months of COVID-19 lockdowns over the past year and a half.

With rents still below pre-pandemic levels, the industry faces a tough outlook after the UK government extended the ban on business evictions until March 2022, while some regions like France are reimposing restrictions amid new virus variants.

Hammerson and rival British Land have said they will no longer grant rent concessions to tenants.

Hammerson’s IFRS loss narrowed to 376 million pounds ($ 523 million) for the six months to June, from 1.09 billion a year earlier, while adjusted profit improved to 20 , 1 million pounds against 17.7 million.

Before the health crisis, the company, which operates malls like the Bullring in Birmingham and Italy Two in Paris, reported 107.4 million pounds of adjusted profit and a loss of 319.8 million pounds under IFRS.

Hammerson left the UK retail fleets business earlier this year, selling seven locations to Brookfield Asset Management for £ 330million in a bid to shore up his finances after the crisis pushed him to a loss of £ 1 , £ 7 billion for 2020.

Its EPRA net tangible assets per share, a key metric for the industry, fell 16% to 69 pence, with attendance averaging 75% of 2019 levels.

Shares of the company, a member of the Midsize Group, fell 2.5% at 07:30 GMT.

JP Morgan analysts noted that the 6% drop in net asset value was a slower pace than the previous year, adding that investors would be looking for progress on potential French divestments.

Hammerson CEO Rita-Rose Gagné said, “We are focused on further reducing balance sheet debt through the divestiture of non-core assets, creating a leaner and more agile organization. . ”

($ 1 = 0.7189 pounds)

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