Hammerson, one of the major mall owners, has provided an update on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting its business. The company has been receiving requests from tenants, including rent deferrals, monthly payments, and waivers, and it is reviewing these requests on a case-by-case basis. Hammerson is taking into consideration the business model and risk profile of each tenant, as well as government aid that may have been provided.
The company owns or has significant stakes in multiple shopping centers across the UK and Europe. It has expressed its desire to support its tenants, particularly smaller and independent brands that may be less resilient to the closure of their retail spaces. As of March 27, Hammerson had received 37% of the rent billed for the second quarter in the UK. However, when adjusted for rent that has been deferred or waived, the amount received increases to 57%. The company expects these figures to rise as temporary agreements are implemented and more cash is collected.
In France, Hammerson’s flagship destinations have been closed since March 15, with only access to essential stores allowed. Similar to the UK, the company has offered temporary monthly rent arrangements to all brands in its French portfolio. Rent payments for April will be deferred, and further guidance from the government is expected before April 15.
In Ireland, Hammerson’s flagship destinations have been closed since March 25, with access only allowed for essential retail. The company is currently in discussions with tenants regarding rental payments, but it is too early to determine the potential impact. Hammerson has already received 16% of the rent due for the second quarter.
Hammerson also owns premium outlets through its interests in Value Retail and Via Outlets. Currently, 17 out of the 20 premium outlets are closed, and the company cannot yet determine the full impact of the ongoing disruption caused by Covid-19 on these properties.
In terms of liquidity, Hammerson had £1.2 billion of undrawn committed facilities and cash at the end of last year. In order to boost its cash reserves, the company drew an additional £100 million on March 25. Furthermore, the net proceeds of £395 million from the sale of seven UK retail parks, expected to be completed on April 23, will further increase liquidity. Hammerson has also suspended capital projects, identified deferred capital expenditure, and sought savings in various areas. As a result of these measures, the company will not be paying a final dividend to its shareholders for the previous year and has withdrawn its dividend guidance for 2020.
It is important to note that Hammerson’s business model and response to the coronavirus pandemic may serve as a reflection of the greater challenges faced by the retail industry as a whole. As the pandemic continues to disrupt businesses across the globe, it is crucial for companies to adapt their strategies and support their tenants in order to weather the storm.
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