British Land takes action to help small shops
British Land is releasing smaller shops, food and beverage businesses on its retail sites from rent obligations for three months from April to June due to the ongoing disruption caused by Covid-19.
The company owns a number of retail parks, including Queens Retail Park in Stafford, as well as a portfolio of offices in London.
"Our primary focus through this exceptionally challenging period is to ensure our people and their families are safe, our assets are securely maintained, and we are protecting the long-term value of our business. A core part of this involves working closely with our customers and suppliers to support them," the company said.
Following the new measures announced by the Government on Monday, one of its retail centres in Lincoln is closed. All others remain open to provide important access to essential stores such as supermarkets and pharmacies.
around 200 individual units, about 12 per cent, of the total are open.
The financial impact in terms of lost rent and service charges from the rent measures will be around £3 million.
For larger retail, food and beverage and leisure customers experiencing financial challenges because of coronavirus, British Land is prepared to defer the March quarter day rents and spread repayment over the six quarters from September 2020.
"On the sites we hold in joint venture or via fund structures, we are working with our partners to agree an appropriate approach. We estimate the aggregate amount of March deferrals across the group will be circa £40m (British Land share) assuming this is extended to joint venture and fund properties," the company says.
To best ensure it can effectively support itsr retail and leisure customers who are hardest hit, protect the long-term value of the business, and further strengthen its financial position, the Board considers it prudent to temporarily suspend future dividend payments. This will be with immediate effect, including the FY20 Q3 dividend due for payment in May. We will revisit our dividend policy when we have sufficient clarity of outlook.
Underlying earnings for the year to the end of March are currently expected to be broadly in line with previous expectations.
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