John Lewis at Home Chester

LandSec confirms London-centric outlook

National property group Land Securities, which owns major retail assets in Chester and Liverpool, said it is seeing a North-South divide in the current commercial market.

In an otherwise positive set of full-year results announced on Wednesday, Land Securities said the London market had been boosted by a favourable exchange rate for tourists but this was "not typical of the picture nationally."

The statement to the stock exchange continued: "…we are seeing something of a divide appear between the north and south of the country, an effect exacerbated by fears around what may happen within public sector employment and the knock-on effect of this on consumer spending."

Shares in LandSec jumped 50p to 798p by 10.30am on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the £100m redevelopment of the St John's Centre in Liverpool remains on hold although the food court is being reconfigured and lettings continue; Aldi opened in the 16,500 sq ft former Woolworths story in October 2010.

Gerald Jennings, Land Securities' portfolio director, said: "What is encouraging is Liverpool city centre as a whole recorded its busiest April on record with half a million more visitors than in 2010. This annual rise of 10% trumps the national drop of 0.8% in April.

"St Johns shopping centre has attracted 2.7m customers so far this year and increased the frequency of its visitors from 60 to 64 times per year proving that our retail offer is still a major draw on the high street.

"However, we're still operating in a difficult economic environment so we have to remain resilient and now, more than ever, is the time to listen to what our customers need and that's exactly what we've done.

"The high street may be busier but every pound in the consumer purse has to work much harder so we have delivered the right deals to bring quality value brands, such as Aldi and Home Bargains, into the scheme.

"Employing a robust asset management strategy and attracting the right retailers into the scheme is going to be our recipe for success in 2011."

In Chester, John Lewis at Home has committed to a 60,000 sq ft store at the Greyhound Retail Park in Sealand Road, due to open in the autumn.

LandSec continued: "Demand for space has been resilient, with successful retailers using the current availability of space to grow market share and increase their property portfolios. We have seen particularly strong demand for larger stores and out of town space. The investment market for retail property has continued to be firm, with relatively few assets coming to the market and strong demand for quality assets from a wide range of investors.

"Along with these dynamics, the retail property market continues to face significant challenges. Retailer insolvencies have reduced since the downturn, but there is still a relatively high level of available space nationally and the internet is taking an increasing share of customer spend. For these reasons, we are not anticipating an immediate resumption of rental growth across the retail property sector as a whole."

Results summary

31 March 2011

31 March 2010


Valuation surplus (1)




Basic NAV per share



Up 18.0%

Adjusted diluted NAV per share



Up 19.5%

Group LTV ratio (1)



Profit before tax



Up 14.8%

Revenue profit (1)



Up 9.1%

Basic EPS



Up 12.7%

Adjusted diluted EPS



Up 6.5%




Up 0.7%

1. Including share of joint ventures

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