Liberty feels good about occupancy rates after UK retail market stabilises

LIBERTY International said yesterday that shopping centre occupancy rates will stay firm in 2010, thanks to the stabilisation of the UK retail market.

Occupancy at Liberty’s shopping centre division, Capital Shopping Centres (CSC), has been maintained at 98 per cent for the period 1 January to 5 May.

Patrick Burgess, chairman of Liberty International said: “We have seen a much lower level of retailer failures than the first quarter of 2009. With the pipeline of new shopping centres sharply curtailed by recent economic conditions, prospects for the performance of CSC’s existing assets are encouraging.”

He added: “We are pleased that the UK retail market has stabilised.”

Liberty is in the process of demerging its shopping centre division and its London-focused property investment and development arm. The company expects the two separate units, CSC and Capital and Counties, to begin trading on 10 May.

Critics have described the demerger as ambitious and say it leaves the two companies vulnerable to takeover bids from overseas.

But Burgess defended Liberty’s decision, saying: “We believe that Capital Shopping Centres and Capital & Counties are well positioned as stand-alone businesses to execute their own significant strategic plans and deliver strong shareholder returns over time.”