Friday 9 October 2020 10:03 am

British Land shares rise as it restarts dividend payments

Shares in property development company British Land climbed 3.9 per cent after it announced it would resume paying its dividend, saying footfall at its retail parks was ahead of the wider market.

The shopping centre and office-owner intends to pay dividends twice a year, in February and August. It previously paid them quarterly but suspended its dividend in March.

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British Land said future dividends would be paid at 80 per cent of underlying earnings per share. It said it would declare an interim dividend when it publishes its results in November. 

The UK retail sector virtually ground to a halt in March and April, with the country under lockdown to protect against coronavirus. 

The economic pain caused many businesses to request rent reductions or struggle to pay altogether. This had a knock-on effect on land-owners.

British Land footfall ‘ahead of index’

An operational update from British Land said the firm had collected 74 per cent of rent in June. It had collected almost all rent from its office business, but 57 per cent from retail.

It said it had already collected 69 per cent of rents for September, however. British Land said 50 per cent of retail occupants had paid their rent already.

The company – which owns the City of London’s Broadgate complex and Paddington Central – said open air and out of town retail parks were driving its performance.

It said all of its retail assets and 86 per cent of their stores were open. British Land said retail footfall was 21 per cent ahead of the Shopper Trak index.

Read more: Retail rent arrears to exceed £2bn after third quarter

“Like many businesses, we continue to face challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the update said. “But we also recognise the importance of the dividend to shareholders.”

“We benefit from the strong financial position we have established over several years, a unique and world-class portfolio of real estate and are reassured by the improving operational performance of our assets over recent months.”