Wednesday 4 May 2016 6:14 pm

Shopping centre giant Intu on track to post rise in full-year rents as shoppers keep tills ringing

Intu, the shopping centre giant, said it is on track to post a jump in rental income this year as consumers continued to flock through its doors. 

The FTSE 100 retail landlord, which owns more than 15 major shopping centres including Intu Lakeside, Merry Hill and Braehead, said footfall rose by 1.4 per cent in the year to 4 May compared with the same period last year. 

Occupancy dipped slightly to 95.3 per cent from 95.8 per cent at the end of December, but Intu said the decline reflected seasonal fluctuations since Christmas. 

As a result the company has stuck to its guidance, predicting a two to three per cent growth in rental income for the year overall. 

Chief executive David Fischel said despite financial markets being volatile ahead of the EU referendum, the company has seen "little impact" on the flow of customers into its shopping centres and said that demand from retailers remained positive. 

"Global investors continue to look actively at prime regional shopping centres in the UK, focussing on the quality income streams provided by this asset class."

Read More: Investors: Brexit would make UK worse place to buy property

Despite his upbeat comments, figures from Savills this week suggest the uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum outcome has in fact dampened demand in the shopping centre market.

The property advisory firm said 10 deals worth £772m took place in the first quarter compared with 14 transactions totalling £845m in the first quarter 2015. 

Among the biggest transactions was Hammerson's acquisition of Grand Central shopping centre in Birmingham, which it bought with Canadian pension fund CPPIB.

Shares in Intu fell 1.77 per cent, despite the company reiterating its guidance.