Hammerson feels heat as shoppers avoid Brent Cross


Brent Cross shopping centre owner Hammerson was cursing the heatwave today despite rising rents and fuller occupancy in the first half of the year.

Hammerson saw rental income rise 2.5% while occupancy rose above its 97% target to 97.4% in the first six months of 2013, but sales at its centres wobbled in the first few weeks of July, chief executive David Atkins said.

“In the first few weeks of the very hot weather people wanted to go outside, have barbecues, go to the beach, rather than go shopping. Sales were down, but as the weather has settled down people have got used to it and we are seeing improvement in fashion as people go out to buy summer clothes,” he said.

Hammerson and its partners are gearing up to spend about £2 billion in the capital over the next five years. Its proposed extension of Brent Cross should attract 20 million visitors a year when completed, and the company will submit a joint planning application for a new shopping centre in Croydon with Australian giant Westfield in the autumn. “In terms of the really big capital plays it is London and the South East where the economy is stronger and where we have seen the retailer demand,” Atkins added.

Hammerson, which sold off its City offices to bolster its retail holdings, spent another £78 million on Value Retail, the owner of luxury designer outlets including Oxford’s Bicester village.