Shopping centre owner Hammerson collects just 16% of rents

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
A deserted Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham city centre, England. Photo: Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images

Hammerson (HMSO.L), the owner of shopping centres like Brent Cross in London and the Bullring in Birmingham, has managed to collect just 16% of rents due from shop tenants.

Hammerson said on Wednesday that it had collected just 16% of quarterly rents that were due last week. The shopping centre giant is also still chasing retailers of second quarter rents, due in March, with just 47% collected.

The company said it was “confident that collection rates will continue to improve materially in all regions as agreements are progressed with brands.”

Read more: Shop landlords face 'reckoning' over COVID-19 impact

Rival British Land (BLND.L), which owns Meadowhall in Sheffield and Ealing Broadway in London, said in a separate update for investors that it had so far collected 36% of quarterly rents due. It has agreed £3m ($3.7m) in rental waivers and is “holding productive discussions” with big tenants about rent deferrals and other affordability changes.

British Land owns the Drakes Circus shopping center in Plymouth, Devon, England. Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Last week retail property expert Jonathan De Mello predicted that the third quarter would be a historically bad one for shop landlords, telling Yahoo Finance UK they could collect as little as 10% of rents due.

Non-essential shops were ordered shut by the government in March and were only allowed to reopen on 15 June. The shutdown has left many retailers without enough cash to pay their rents.

Last week shopping centre operator Intu, which owns Manchester’s Trafford Centre and the Lakeside shopping centre in Essex, collapsed into administration.

Read more: Shopping centre giant Intu collapses after lockdown

Hammerson said on Wednesday that the COVID-19 pandemic has had “an unprecedented impact” and was “reinforcing its balance sheet” as a result.

The group has negotiated more lax terms on some of its debt and drawn £300m from its revolving credit lines. Hammerson is also seeking to raise its credit limit to £1.5bn under the government backed coronavirus corporate financing facility.

Shares in Hammerson rose 3.6%. British Land rose 0.2%.