Vukile’s shopping centre footfalls are returning to pre-Covid levels

Vukile’s shopping centre footfalls are returning to pre-Covid levels

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VUKILE Property Fund would pay a dividend of 101.04 cents (129.03c) per share for the year to March 31 as footfalls at the shopping centres in its R32.8 billion portfolio started trending towards pre-Covid-19 levels.

Rent collection had improved to 98 percent and retail vacancies were well contained at 3.2 percent. Forty-nine percent of the group property by value is in South Africa and 51 percent in Spain.

Vacancies in the Spanish portfolio was only 1.7 percent, while the rent collection rate was more than 95 percent.

The balance sheet is robust, with debt reduced by R3.1 billion, and loan-to-value lower at 42.8 percent from 46.1 percent during the year.

Undrawn debt facilities increased to R1.9bn, which increased by a further R1.6bn to R3.5bn post year end.

Atlantic Leaf was exited in August 2020, realising R1.1bn. The group provided R467 million in rental relief due to the pandemic.

Vukile said it supported proposed Fairvest/Arrowhead transaction.

Revenue and operating profit reduced relative to the prior period, largely due to rent concessions granted to tenants, in southern Africa and Spain.

Property revenue decreased to R3.1bn from R3.4bn. Operating profit before finance costs fell to R1.8bn from R2.63bn, while the profit attributable to owners of the parent came to R584m, versus a R103.2m loss at the end of the 2020 year.

Results were affected by rental discounts, the hard lockdowns, high-cost structures and increased bad debts.

Net asset value per share at March 31, 2021 was 18.16c, down from 18.34c per share at March 31, 2020, driven in the main in the reduction in fair value of the Spanish portfolio.

Total indirect property holdings in listed property investments reduced to R0.8bn from R2.1bn, following the sale of the interest in Atlantic Lead. Listed investments comprise investments in Fairvest Properties and Arrowhead Properties.

“Vukile remains in very good shape operationally and financially, and with a clear strategic focus, the group is well positioned for long-term growth,” directors said.

“We will continue to invest so that we make the transition to a customer-led organisation, with the right skills for a changing retail environment,” the company said. No dividend guidance was provided due to the uncertainty about the pace and extent of vaccine roll-outs.

Tenant sales had rebounded faster than footfall, continuing the trend of larger basket sizes, less frequent visits and more focused shopping.

Rural and township centres consistently outperformed on both sales and footfall.

Value centres, with large exposure to grocers and essential services, weathered the storm well during the lockdown levels.

Commuter centres remain under pressure with reduced sales and footfall, while regional shopping centres were the largest contributor to softer sales and footfall in the portfolio.

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