Hammerson Plc wrote down the value of its malls and stores by almost 2 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) after the pandemic triggered the greatest fall in rental income in the companys history.
Rent collected from the landlords malls and retail parks plunged by 41% last year as retailers were forced to close across the U.K., France and Ireland, the company said in its 2020 earnings
statement Friday. That triggered a near 24% collapse in the value of its portfolio.
U.K. main street retailers were already struggling before the coronavirus hit, due to a combination of online shopping, high property taxes and rising costs. The closures brought about by the pandemic turned that struggle into a crisis, forcing dozens of the countries biggest retailers into bankruptcy.
Our immediate focus in 2021 is leading Hammerson through Covid-19 to safety, Chief Executive Officer Rita-Rose Gagne said in the statement. This means further disposals to strengthen the balance sheet, managing refinancing, and sharpening our operations to maximize income.
The companys U.K. flagship malls were hardest hit, with values falling almost 36%, more than double the decline for its French and Irish centers. Value Retail, the companys designer outlets business, was more resilient with a 6.2% drop.
The collapse in values forced Hammerson to a 1.7 billion pound loss and increased its portfolios loan to value ratio to 46%. The company has sold stakes in two French malls so far this year as it continues to shed assets in an attempt to cut debt.
(Updates with mall declines in 5th paragraph)
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