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Tue 22nd May 2018 - Shaftesbury – we continue to see healthy trading across over 283 West End pubs, restaurants and cafes
Shaftesbury – we continue to see healthy trading across over 283 West End pubs, restaurants and cafes: West End property landlord Shaftesbury has reported healthy trading across its 14.9 acre property portfolio in the West End. It reported profit after tax increased 20.8% to £123.7m in the six months ended 31 March 2018. The company reported: “The exceptional variety of restaurants, cafés and leisure choices in the West End are important to its economy, bringing footfall and spending. With 283 restaurants, cafés and pubs, we are the largest single provider of dining and leisure space in the West End. Our ownerships include high-profile and busy destinations such as Chinatown, Kingly Court, Neal’s Yard and the Opera Quarter. The majority of our restaurants offer casual all-day dining, with a focus on experience and quality. Despite a national slowdown in dining and leisure spending, we continue to see healthy trading across our areas. Availability of restaurant space in the West End is constrained by a restrictive planning environment, and the reluctance of existing occupiers to give up their valuable space other than for significant premiums. Against this backdrop of limited supply, occupier demand is good, with operators attracted by exceptional footfall, seven days a week, and a relatively affluent customer base. Competition for available space continues to be strong, and occupancy levels remain high. At 31 March 2018, all our available-to-let restaurant, café and leisure space (ERV: £1.3 million) was under offer. The 79 restaurants, cafés and bars we own in Chinatown, close to the West End’s major entertainment venues, represent approximately one-third, by floor space, of our total ownership of these valuable uses. In this exceptionally busy location, notable for its long hours of trading, our strategy is to improve the variety of the dining offer, whilst maintaining its authentic Chinese and East Asian character and affordability. We are taking opportunities, as they arise, to secure vacant possession of buildings and improve the layout of space on lower floors whilst introducing new uses on upper floors. Demand for this refurbished space is strong and is enabling us to introduce exciting, new concepts. The new restaurants and cafes, and associated public realm works, at our Central Cross scheme are important additions to Chinatown’s offer and appeal.” Chief executive Brian Bickell said: “Our results for the half year ended 31 March 2018, which show continuing growth in rental income, EPRA earnings, and NAV, demonstrate the successful and innovative approach we bring to the management of our portfolio, and the breadth of appeal and resilience of London’s West End. The West End economy has been largely unaffected by business and consumer uncertainty following the 2016 EU referendum and the structural challenges facing national retail and restaurant chains. Interest in our space is good and occupancy remains high with occupiers recognising that the West End has a broad appeal to domestic and international businesses and visitors, as well as its large local working population, and a generally less price-sensitive customer base. We are confident that our exceptional portfolio, located in the centre of one of the world’s leading global cities, managed by an experienced and enthusiastic team and supported by robust finances, is well-placed to continue to deliver excellent long-term returns for shareholders.”

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