Land Securities vacancies up as woes continue

LAND SECURITIES, the UK’s largest landlord, has been hit by a fall in visitors to its shopping centres in the three months to July, which the company blamed on “ongoing uncertain economic news”.

The company reported yesterday that footfall in its shopping malls fell by 2.8 per cent on the same period last year, and that 3.2 per cent of its properties overall are vacant, up from three per cent earlier in the year.

While the number of empty shops remained the same as the previous quarter, there was an increase in vacant offices in London, from 2.5 per cent of total spaces to 2.9 per cent.

Land Securities has been hit by high-street retailers Game, La Senza and Clintons entering administration, but said it was not overly concerned about the number of empty stores. Chief executive Rob Noel told investors yesterday that “the interest and intent is there” and that “while the market is challenging, we remain confident in our position”.

Shares in Land Securities, Britain’s biggest listed property company, have risen steadily this year, but fell slightly yesterday.

The firm said that it was still signing up tenants, pointing out it had made lettings worth £9.3m during the last quarter, but that the nation’s economic woes meant deals were taking longer to complete.

“We remain confident that the development pipeline offers exceptional opportunity to deliver growth,” Noel said.

The company added that it had rented out about 19 per cent of its Walkie Talkie tower on 20 Fenchurch Street, which is due to be completed in April 2014.