Shaftesbury Cancels Final Dividend Despite Improved West End Footfall

(Alliance News) - Shaftesbury PLC said Friday that footfall in London's West End has started to ...

Alliance News 25 September, 2020 | 8:02AM
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(Alliance News) - Shaftesbury PLC said Friday that footfall in London's West End has started to recover in the real estate investment trust's second half to date, however due to a recent rise in virus cases, it has decided to not declare a final dividend.

For the fourth quarter ending September 30, the property investor noted a slow recovery in footfall in the West End starting from July, following the area's effective closure in February. The recovery was particularly noticeable in major shopping streets Oxford Street and Regent Street, as well was leisure-focused Leicester Square and Soho.

The improvement was attributed to a return of local and domestic day visitors, and a gradual return of office-based workers. In addition, most of Shaftesbury's 611 restaurants, cafes, pubs and shops have reopened since late June.

For the six months to September 30, 41% of rent due has been collected, while 10% is expected to be subject to deferred collection arrangements. West End-focused investor Shaftesbury said 23% is being waived and 26% remains outstanding.

However, continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the risk of restrictions implemented as a response have led to a decline in Shaftesbury's portfolio occupancy, with the EPRA vacancy rate at the end of August rising to 9.7% of estimated rental value, compared to 4.8% at the end of March.

As a result of Shaftesbury's current trading conditions, and the risk of further restrictions in the coming months as Covid-19 cases start to rise once more, the group will not declare a final dividend for the year to the end of September.

Shaftesbury did not declare an interim dividend for the year, either.

"The course of the pandemic in the short and medium term will continue to dictate the extent of restrictions imposed by the UK and other governments to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus, with implications for the global economy and the pace of recovery. As an international destination, local trading conditions in the West End will inevitably be affected by these macro uncertainties," said Chief Executive Brian Bickell.

By Dayo Laniyan;

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