Landsec records six-month loss but business ops remain strong
Landsec on Tuesday said it swung to a first-half loss but was still “well-placed” in a challenging market, citing its “strong strategic and operational momentum”.
The UK property giant, which has a big stake in the Bluewater mall in Kent and a sizeable portfolio of London commercial properties, recorded a pre-tax loss of £192 million in the six months to 30 September, from a profit of £275 million in the same period a year earlier, as a deficit on investments and an increase in costs more than offset revenue growth.
Revenue grew 25% to £394 million from $315 million. However, the firm noted a net deficit on revaluation of investment properties of £331 million, swung from a £94 million surplus.
Landsec said a small 0.4% increase in retail valuations was offset by a 4.4% drop in London, which accounts for 61% of its overall portfolio by value, with 63% located in the West End.
Meanwhile, the rise in interest rates over the period meant transaction volumes across global and UK property markets "slowed considerably" and pricing started to adjust.
But Landsec stressed it was in a positive position, given the toughening times, down to its strategy launched two years ago, underpinned by two key principles. These are focusing on resources where it has “genuine competitive advantage” and its “strong balance sheet”.
Following record leasing last year, it noted leasing activity remained strong, with £10 million of lettings on average, 1% above valuers' assumptions, and a further £31 million in solicitors' hands, 3% ahead of valuers' assumptions. “Current occupancy is stable vs March, at 95.1%, which means our vacancy is roughly half that of the London market”.
Landsec’s CEO Mark Allen noted that the company benefited from selling nearly £2 billion of mature, low-yielding assets when interest rates and property yields were very low, “while focusing new investment exclusively on opportunities where we saw clear value, or situations which offered long term optionality.”
He added: “The successful execution of our strategy therefore means we are not only well placed for more challenging market conditions, but also have optionality to take advantage of new opportunities that will no doubt emerge as property markets continue to adjust to a new reality.”
With anticipated global economic uncertainty to remain elevated, it noted that London “remains a top global city which continues to attract new businesses and talent; that the future of major retail destinations is more positive than most, including many retailers themselves, thought two years ago”.
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