Shaftesbury enjoys West End shoppers

LANDLORD Shaftesbury said yesterday a record influx of overseas and domestic tourists has boosted tenants in its core West End market.<br /><br />The property firm which owns more than 450 properties in Theatreland, Chinatown and Carnaby Street, said it continued to see healthy demand for its shops, restaurants and residential accommodation.<br /><br />The group said that the West End area &ldquo;has proved very resilient throughout the recent period of economic turbulence.&rdquo;<br /><br />The group said that the influx in demand meant it shrunk its vacant space to 69,000 square feet by the end of July, from 74,500 square feet in March. The group said the vacant commercial space in its wholly owned portfolio remains &ldquo;very low&rdquo;, with a rental value of &pound;800,000.<br /><br />Shaftesbury said that since 1 April 2009, it had purchased or contracted to buy properties at a total cost of approximately &pound;20m. But the group added that supply in desirable locations was tight because many property owners are reluctant to sell assets.<br /><br />The company said that based on current enquiries it expects around 60 per cent of its new shopping and leisure hub at St Martin&rsquo;s Courtyard would be let by 2010.<br /><br />In contrast, the group said the commercial office side of the business, which accounts for 22 per cent of the the landlord&rsquo;s income is continuing to suffer with demand and rents falling.<br /><br />Shaftesbury raised &pound;149m of spending power in a two-for-three share sale in May in an effort to exploit investment opportunities. But a week after supporting the rights issue activist investor Laxey Partners dumped its 19 per cent stake in Shaftesbury. Yesterday the shares closed down 6.45 per cent at 369.8p.