London West End

Shaftesbury reports good demand and letting activity across West End Villages

Shaftesbury has continued to see good demand and letting activity across its West End Villages, boosted by the successful staging of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

In an already popular West End, domestic and overseas visitor numbers and spending were good leading up to Christmas and throughout the New Year period.
 
With continuing good demand across all its villages and uses, available vacant space is at an exceptionally low level. Shaftesbury reports sustained interest from retailers, particularly from Europe and America, seeking shops in the company’s centrally-located villages. Similarly there are many interesting new restaurant concepts seeking space in the West End.
 
Both of Shaftesbury’s schemes in Carnaby are now underway. These schemes, which together are estimated to cost GBP18m should, when fully let, produce an additional GBP2m of rental income.
 
The first scheme, which is on the north side of Foubert's Place, will provide three shops totalling 10,800 sq ft. Completion is anticipated in early summer 2013. The selection of retailers will be particularly important for Shaftesbury’s long term strategy for this busy pedestrian route linking Regent Street and Carnaby.
 
The company’s second major scheme in Carnaby, to create 7,500 sq ft of retail space on the south side of Foubert's Place and a new 6,500 sq ft restaurant on Kingly Street, has now commenced. Upper floors will include 10,000 sq ft of offices, (an addition of 3,000 sq ft following recent changes to the scheme) and 12 apartments. Completion of the extended scheme is anticipated by the end of 2014.
 
The ERV of other schemes across Shaftesbury’s portfolio amounted to GBP2.3m, equivalent to 2.8 per cent of wholly owned commercial ERV. Of the four restaurants under construction (ERV GBP0.7m), the two largest (ERV GBP0.5m) are already under offer.
                       
The ERV of wholly owned commercial space available to let at 31 January 2013 amounted to GBP2m (2.4 per cent of wholly owned commercial ERV) of which GBP1.2m was under offer.  This low level of available space reflects a particularly busy period for enquiries and letting activity since September. However, Shafesbury does expect an increase in the number of vacant shops in the early months of 2013. This is in line with normal seasonal patterns of activity and allows the company to introduce new concepts to its villages.   
 
In the Longmartin joint venture the ERV of our share of vacant commercial space amounted to GBP0.1m.
 
Shaftesbury’s total debt at 31 January 2013 was GBP557.0m, a net increase of GBP0.3m since 30 September 2012. Undrawn committed bank facilities totalled GBP139m (30.9.2012: GBP139.3m). Debt will increase by GBP23.7m in February 2013 following completion of recent property acquisitions and payment of the 2012 final dividend.
 
John Manser retires as chairman at the conclusion of the 2013 annual general meeting being held on 8 February 2013. He is to be succeeded as non-executive chairman by Jonathan Lane, whose current role as executive deputy chairman will cease.

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