London boosts Hammerson

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The Independent Online

Hammerson, the owner of retail and office property, posted a double-digit rise in profits last year, boosted by strong demand for office space in London.

The company, which owns London's Brent Cross shopping centre, delivered a 11.2 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £144.5m for the year to 31 December, aided by growth in underlying rental income. The company, which also has a portfolio in France, said it enjoyed the "highest level of leasing activity since 2006" in London. It added that for the first time since 2008, Hammerson had benefited from "significant" pre-letting activity in the capital. Furthermore, its central London vacancy rate tumbled from 7.2 per cent at the start of the year to 5.5 per cent by the end of 2010.

However, on the outlook for retail property, the company said: "The effects of increased taxation and restrictions on government spending may mean that some tenants, principally in the UK retail sector, face difficult conditions and there is a risk that they will be unable to pay their rents. The large number of tenants and their geographical spread means the risk of individual tenant default to Hammerson is low."