Walkie Scorchie owner rides development boom

The owner of the Walkie Talkie tower (aka Walkie Scorchie), Land Securities, has reported strong activity in developments and occupancy, according to its third quarter interim management statement.

The UK's largest commercial property owner also said it expects to submit a planning application next month for its solution to "the solar glare issue" afflicting the Walkie Scorchie. The skyscrapper now enjoys 64 per cent pre-let with a further 23 per cent in solicitors' hands.

Retail Portfolio like-for-like voids were down from three per cent at 30 September 2013 to 2.5 per cent at 31 December 2013. The overall occupancy rate for the company's retail portfolio was up to 98.3 per cent from 97.8 per cent at 30 September 2013.

The firm also announced the start of £243m worth of new developments at 1 New Street Square, EC4 and 20 Eastbourne Terrace, W2.

Land Securities' chief executive Robert Noel, said:

In retail, there is continued demand for good locations as evidenced by the increased occupancy levels in our properties and, in particular, there is strong demand in food and beverage.

In central London, we have seen occupier demand increase further. This, combined with a constrained supply of high quality, technically resilient space, means our significant committed programme of speculative developments is well placed.

Occupancy rates have improved across the company's retail and London portfolio, with like-for-like vacancies down to 1.8 per cent at the end of December, versus two per cent at the end of September.

Last week analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. raised their price target on shares of Land Securities in a research note to investors while, Jefferies Group upgraded shares of Land Securities Group to a “buy” rating.