Covent Garden landlord Capco upbeat on 2021 prospects
There are 34 days (and counting) to go until non-essential retail reopens in England and optimism mounts. And London's Covent Garden surely isn't alone in its enthusiasm to return to business.
“I think everybody we deal with wants to get on with it. They [retailers] are champing at the bit to reopen,” said Ian Hawksworth, chief executive of Capital & Counties (CapCo), which owns 1.2 million sq ft of prime retail and office space across Covent Garden.
Despite delivering tough-to-read preliminary results for the year ended 31 December, Hawksworth said on Wednesday that he remains ”cautiously optimistic” about reopening the estate that had seen its value fall by 27% to £1.8 billion.
That means almost £1 billion was wiped off its portfolio after the pandemic devastated footfall in one of London’s key destinations.
Meanwhile, net rental income plummeted 74% to £16 million compared to December 2019. Underlying net rental income was also down 30% on a like-for-like basis to £44 million. New leasing deals were signed at 29% below estimated rents at the end of 2019.
In the positive column, CapCo noted vacancy rate stood at just 3.5% compares to 3.2% a year ago. It also recorded 65 new leases and renewals in the period, representing £6.2 million of contracted income agreed during the year.
Also, Covent Garden net debt was cut to £352 million from £555 million a year ago and loan-to-value-ratio was cut to 19% from 36% at 30 June 2020.
Staunton added: “We remain focused on responsible stewardship, disciplined capital management and are committed to delivering long-term value for shareholders from our unique portfolio of West End focused investments.”
Guardedly, chairman Henry Staunton also said Covent Garden is “well-positioned to benefit from recovery over time”.
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