Land Securities upbeat as Salway bows out

Land Securities, which has significant assets in the North West, said it has continued to reduce overall void levels despite tough conditions.

In a third quarter management statement the group, which owns shopping centres in Liverpool, Preston and Chester, said it had also hit targets and increased lettings.

It achieved lettings of £7.1m at an average of 0.5% above the September 2011 rental values. A further £3.3m of lettings are in solicitors' hands.

Voids in the like-for-like portfolio were down to 3.1% from 3.3% at 30 September. However, voids in the retail portfolio stood at 3.4% at 31 December, up slightly from 3.3%. Units in adminstration increased to 1% at January 20 from 0.4%.

At its St John's Shopping Centre in Liverpool year-on-year footfall rose by 8% in December.

James Larmuth, portfolio manager St John's centreJames Larmuth, pictured, portfolio manager at the centre, said: "In the week leading up to Christmas Day our malls were home to a massive 346,000 festive shoppers, 17% higher than the same week the previous year.

"Also our car park was very busy during Christmas week seeing more than 10,400 cars use the car park, 20% more than last year. January has been busy so far with more than 600,000 shoppers in the centre already this year 0.5% up on the same period last year.

"But we cannot be complacent about the fact it's going to be another tough year for retailers. The first few months of the New Year are always the hardest and already there have been casualties."

Land Securities' chief executive Francis Salway, who announced he will step down in March to make way for London portfolio managing director Robert Noel, said: "Despite weak economic news flow, we have continued to make progress in the period having completed a number of development lettings, and further reduced void levels on our portfolio. As is to be expected in a period of economic uncertainty, letting transactions are taking longer to execute.

"Having refinanced over £1bn of our bank facilities, we are well placed with long average duration of debt, moderate balance sheet gearing and the capacity to invest. We expect the economic uncertainty to continue in the near term, but we remain confident of our ability to withstand economic fluctuations and to take advantage of opportunities that may arise from the scarcity of bank funding."

As well as St John's in Liverpool, the group owns Clayton Square in the city, Greyhound Retail Park in Chester and St John's in Preston.

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ADD: Updated with comments from James Larmuth, portfolio manager of the St John’s Shopping Centre in Liverpool.

By Ed

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