The Hammerson shopping center owner managed to collect 95 per cent of Ireland’s retail rents in 2021 despite repeated lockdowns – the highest level in all of its markets.
The operator of Dundrum Town Center took in £42.5million at its four operating properties in Ireland last year, just 2 per cent down on the year before when the pandemic began.
Collections in the UK totaled 90 percent for 2021, while France came in at 86 percent.
The company was offering tenants a 50 per cent discount on rent during the Stage 5 lockdown earlier in the year, with the exception of a few businesses which continued to trade heavily.
But while Hammerson made those temporary concessions, it also tightened its collections approach after the first year of the pandemic, when many tenants were late or withholding rents.
“We rigorously reviewed our collections process and implemented improvements, including improved reporting, that allowed us to maximize and increase collections rates throughout the year,” the company said in a statement.
“We have been open and fair to our occupiers during the pandemic, but we have not hesitated to resort to legal proceedings when our approach has not been reciprocated.”
Visitation at Hammerson’s Irish properties, which also include Kildare Village, the Ilac Center and the Swords Pavilion, surged 33 per cent in the second half of the year as the Omicron economy began to revive.
The company trimmed its losses last year as it was buoyed by sales worth more than £500m and rising rental demand as Covid-19 eased in its main markets.
Hammerson said it has seen “tangible results” since changing strategy and divesting significant assets following the heavy toll of the pandemic.
In 2021 the company sold a number of sites including its entire UK retail operation for £330m and the Silverburn shopping center near Glasgow for around £140m.
The group said it had reduced its net debt by 18% to £1.8bn by the end of the year and stressed it had “more work to do” as part of the strategy.
As reported by Hammerson, adjusted profits for 2021 rose 122 per cent to £81m as revenue improved. Total losses narrowed to £429m from £1.7bn last year on property revaluations, including a write-down on land it owns in Dublin, where the company is developing a large site in the O’Connell Street/Henry Street area .
It also highlighted strong demand for prime retail space, with the rental value of its flagship locations rising 150 per cent year-on-year to £25m.
“The pandemic has accelerated trends in our operating environment as people engage with physical space in new ways,” said CEO Rita-Rose Gagne.
“We are already seeing the tangible results of our strategy, with strong tenant demand, reduced vacancies, improved collections, a lower cost base and a clear path to value from our real estate bank.”
Industry analysts said the numbers showed improvement across the company but stressed that more needs to be done.
“Full-year 2021 results show signs of stabilization in NPV, but there is still a long way to go to rebuild the business,” commented Liberum’s analysts.
Dublin-listed Hammerson closed slightly lower on Friday.
Additional reporting by PA
https://www.independent.ie/business/dundrum-town-centre-owner-tightens-rent-collection-in-pandemic-recovery-41413742.html Dundrum Town Center owner is tightening rental income as it recovers from the pandemic