Shaftesbury swings to £288m loss as tenants struggle to pay rent

Landlord Shaftesbury has swung into a loss as the business said the valuation of its property dropped by more than £300 million.

The London-based property owner said it faces a pre-tax loss of £287.6 million in the six months ending March 31.

It is a big change compared to a year ago when bosses were able to report a £38.7 million profit before tax.

It came as tenants started to struggle to pay their rent as business owners were forced to close their stores amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Shaftesbury said it will only be able to collect about half of the rents due from April to September this year, and only “over time”.

It is in discussion with around 800 commercial tenants to tailor solutions on rents and service charges.

The company was forced to reduce the value of its portfolio by 7.9% to £3.5 billion.

Chief executive Brian Bickell said the period has been characterised by a huge amount of uncertainty.

“The six months to 31 March 2020 encompassed a period of Brexit-related political and business uncertainty, a traditionally busy Christmas and new year trading period, and from early 2020, rapidly growing global concerns regarding the Covid-19 virus, leading to widespread, unprecedented measures by national governments to limit its transmission,” he said.

“Although our business performed well during the first four months of the period, the growing impact of the measures to address the pandemic are having a material impact on normal patterns of life and commerce, both for our occupiers and on the near-term prospects for our business and financial performance.

“The economies of London and the West End have a long history of structural resilience, having weathered many episodes of near-term challenges and uncertainties.

“Their unique features come from a culture of constant evolution across a broad-based economy, attracting talent, creativity, innovation and investment from across the world and reinforcing their enduring appeal to businesses, visitors and as great places to live. In the post-pandemic recovery, these fundamental advantages will underpin their return to prosperity and growth.”

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