THE owner of Eldon Square and the Metrocentre has shrugged off the difficulties enveloping the retail world to report an annual rise in revenues.
Intu Properties, recently rebranded from Capital Shopping Centres, said income rose to £525.7m from £516.1m, while pre-tax profits increased to £152.6m from £27.2m in the year to the end of December.
The group, which is the landlord and owner of a string of shopping centres across the country that also include the Trafford Centre in Manchester and Lakeside in Essex, also announced yesterday that it is paying £250.5m for Midsummer Place Shopping Centre in Milton Keynes.
It will fund the acquisition with a share placing of up to 86 million new ordinary shares of 50p, which will represent up to 9.9% of the company’s issued share placing.
During 2012, Intu reported an average occupancy level of 96% in its centres, despite the tough retail environment which has seen the collapse of a number of big names in the past 12 months.
Intu Properties chief executive of David Fischel said: “2012 has been a year of considerable progress, with the quality of our assets and teams demonstrated by the out-performance of national benchmarks against a challenging economic background.
“We start 2013 with robust operating indicators and considerable momentum across the business from a range of attractive investment opportunities.
“We are well placed with improved financial flexibility to deliver strong returns to shareholders through the scale of our prime regional shopping centre business and our specialist focus, reinforced by the major announcement in January of our new brand intu and digital initiatives.”
The group, which opened the new Metroasis extension last year, has also bought land next to the shopping centre for further expansion.
Overall, Intu said the group out performed the “challenging market”, with property valuations up by 0.6% compared with a 5.8% fall in the benchmark index.
The 96% occupancy rate was achieved despite the impact of tenant failures which represented around 6% of the rent roll.
The group is spending £7m on rebranding, which will result in stores being known as Intu Eldon Square, Intu Metro Centre etc, and is also investing £8m on its digital infrastructure.
Eldon Square will be one of the first in the free wi-fi roll-out.
The group is also spending £10m to create the intu.co.uk website, which will allow customers to shop at all the stores in its centres via a one login portal.