Mall owner enjoys rising valuations

Mall Blackburn owner Capital & Regional said occupancy across its seven UK shopping centres rose to 96% and net asset value jumped 11% in 2014.

The listed real estate investment trust underwent a major restructuring in 2014 including issuing £165m of new equity to fund the acquisition of outstanding stakes in The Mall portfolio and the £380m refinancing of the Mall debt, which had a cost at the year-end of 3.45% and a gearing of 45%. The group produced pre-tax profit of £67.2m in 2014 compared to £7.3m in 2013. The net asset value rose to 60p a share, against 54p a year earlier. Passing rent was £64.5m for the year.

At the 650,000 sq ft Mall Blackburn, B&M opened a 19,000 sq ft unit on a five-year lease. Jeweller Warren James upsized to a 1,300 sq ft unit and clothing retailer tReds has taken a 2,700 sq ft unit, both for terms of 10 years. Ed's Diner signed a 15-year lease on a 5,400 sq ft unit, while further deals were concluded with Vodafone, The Fragrance Store and M Bitz.

John Clare, chairman, said: "Capital & Regional has made significant progress in the delivery of its strategic objectives this year. The acquisition of a controlling stake in The Mall and the subsequent successful tender for units held by minorities has been transformational for the Group. Conversion to a REIT at the end of 2014 which was followed by the sale of its German portfolio, completed shortly after the year end, enables the group to focus all its resources on its stated aim to become the UK's leading community shopping centre REIT.

"The group is now well positioned to achieve this objective based on its exposure to a high quality portfolio of strong assets, dominant in their immediate catchment, which offer the potential to generate significant income and NAV growth based on a programme of exciting asset management initiatives across the portfolio."

The dividend to shareholders increased to 0.95p a share (2013: 0.65p). The share price rose 5p to 54p.

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