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The owner of Westfield shopping centres in Australia and New Zealand says store space across its 39 properties is almost completely occupied.

Scentre Group chief executive Peter Allen told the company’s annual general meeting that Westfield continues to attract popular brands.

“We’re continuing to improve the retail product offering by introducing more on-trend and desirable brands,” he said.

“In turn, these brands are driving demand for retail space across our portfolio – which remains more than 99.5 per cent leased.”

The strong demand for store space exists despite tough conditions for retailers, illustrated by the recent financial collapse of Pumpkin Patch, Marcs, David Lawrence and Payless Shoes.

Mr Allen said Westfield’s 30 fastest growing tenants in Australia have increased their aggregate number of stores from 151 to 438 in the past five years.

Specialty retail sales grew by 2.6 per cent in 2016 at Australian Westfield centres, with growth across most categories, he said.

Scentre, the country’s largest shopping centre landlord, still expects its funds from operations to grow by about 4.25 per cent in 2017, compared to 3.2 per cent in 2016.

The group has $3 billion in developments planned, including the construction of its first new centre in more than 10 years, at Coomera on the Gold Coast, which is likely to begin in the next 12 months.

Scentre made a net profit of $2.99 billion in 2016, up 10 per cent on 2015.

 
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