Intu make huge loss, warns it could go under
Struggling malls giant Intu is thinking the unthinkable at the moment and when it delivered its 2019 results on Thursday, it also warned that it’s in danger of collapse, if it can’t raise further cash.
The company also posted a massive loss this time, of £2 billion, much wider than the already-huge loss of £1.17 billion it made the year before.
The company owns or part owns a number of top malls such as Lakeside, Cribbs Causeway, Merry Hill and Trafford Centre, but has struggled in the face of retailer company voluntary arrangements and a heavy debt load. This latter issue has forced it to sell off some attractive properties in Spain.
The company also had to write down the value of its shopping centres to the tune of £2 billion with these results, which means the value of those centres is down 22% to £6.6 billion.
Also way down is the Intu share price. It fell around 16% in early trading on Monday and at the time of writing, was at 4.8p. Five years ago the shares were at a high of £3.67 each and even a year ago they were £1.11 each.
This means the overall market value of the company on the stock exchange is just £65 million.
But will Intu actually go under? Despite having failed in a cash call in recent weeks and flagging “material uncertainty in relation to [its] ability to continue as a going concern” in its results, it also said there are ways forward. It can sell more assets, negotiate with its lenders and refinance its £4.5 billion+ debt.
“We have options including alternative capital structures and further disposals to provide liquidity, and will seek to negotiate covenant waivers where appropriate,” it said. “These would address potential covenant remedies and the upcoming refinancing activities, with the first material debt maturities in early 2021.”
So what did the results actually say about its performance? Well, last year, revenue fell to £542.3 million from £581.1 million and net rental income dropped to £401.6 million from £450.5 million.
Looking forward, it expects its net rental income to continue to fall in the current year, but that fall will slow down compared to 2019.
And it said it hasn’t seen a major hit from the coronavirus so far (in the first 10 weeks of the year), but it’s monitoring the situation closely.
But the company continues to believe in the viability of physical retail spaces. CEO Matthew Roberts said on Thursday: "The store is not dying, it is evolving. The right stores in the right locations will always play a vital role for retailers but, with all the recent commentary around the death of the store, you could believe that no one will be going shopping in the future. Two statistics from recent research by CACI illustrate the importance of the store. First, around 90% of all retail spend is influenced by a physical store, and second, the presence of a physical store can double a retailer's online sales in that local catchment.”
He added that the same research showed that in 2026, 77% of transactions “will still touch a store, even with the overall percentage of online sales increasing from around 20% to 30%. If this is considered with the expectation that overall store numbers in the UK will decrease, there will be continued demand from brands for high-quality, high-footfall locations where they can maximise their productivity and profitability”.
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