Owners of North East shopping centres, Intu Properties plc, say footfall is up 1% on the year to date as the firm prepares to issue a £350m bond.
The bond would finance the move of intu Derby and intu Chapelfield, collectively valued at £679m, into the secured group structure.
An interim management statement, brought forward in light of the proposed bond issue, showed the group had signed 71 new long-term leases during its third quarter, representing £13m of new passing rent.
Intu acknowledged the closures of administrations of clothing chain La Senza and Phones 4u had impacted its occupancy rates. The two firms’ 39 units at intu centres had accounted for 1% of overall annual rent.
The resulting closures of some La Senza and Phones 4u stores knocked intu’s occupancy rate from 96% to 95%. Despite this the firm insisted it anticipated “good demand” for the vacant units.
During the four months from the start of July to November 3, the Eldon Square and Metrocentre operators secured 20 new catering lettings, including American dining chain Coast to Coast at Metrocentre.
Swiss watch brand Tag Heuer’s retail outfit was also recruited to the Metrocentre during the period, and River Island revealed an extension to its new store there.
Intu said its £1.2bn programme of developments was on track, including works at its intu Potteries centre in Stoke on Trent; £42m refreshment works at intu Victoria, and the £100m Charter Place redevelopment at intu Watford.
David Fischel, chief executive, said: “We are pleased to see continued improvement in retailer demand for space, particularly evident in centres where we are undertaking investment and development projects.
“The benefits of last year’s rebranding as intu have been enhanced by further customer service and digital initiatives in the period.
“The balance sheet is in good shape strengthened by recent financing transactions and we have a wide range of organic growth opportunities with strong momentum in our £1.2bn development pipeline.”
In the last week intu have secured a new £600m revolving credit facility, replacing a £375m facility which was due to expire in 2018.
Meanwhile, the London Stock Exchange listed firm outlined further pre-development activity in Spain, on a site under option in Palma, Mallorca.
Intu is also working on development options in Malaga, Valencia and Vigo. The firm said a decision on the Malaga site is expected in early 2015.