Leases, occupancy strong but British Land loss-making as interest rates bite
First the good news. For the year ending 31 March, commercial property giant British Land leased out 3.4 million sq ft of space and portfolio occupancy is now 96.7%. Its focus on sectors with strong occupation also drove like-for-like net rental growth up 6% and there was also a 7% increase in underlying profit to report.
But now for the not-so-good news. Higher interest rates meant the value of its property portfolio — which includes the Meadowhall mall — declined 12.3% as broader economic worries dented sentiment in the commercial real estate sector. And like its peer Landsec, the day before, the business swung to an annual pre-tax loss of £1.04 billion versus a profit of £965 million a year earlier.
But CEO Simon Carter remains upbeat after delivering “a good operational performance despite the challenging macroeconomic backdrop”.
And he also said the group expects rental growth of 2-4% in retail parks in the next 12 months, positive news given the sector now plays an increasing part in its portfolio. It recently acquired over £200 million of “high quality retail park, life sciences and London Urban Logistics assets at attractive prices".
The company is a major player in the retail parks segment. That segment is one of the most buoyant in the UK with it expanding from it usual supermarket and DIY stores profile to take in many more fashion and other retailers in recent years.
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