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Capital & Regional in talks with struggling Debenhams about store re-sizing

Capital & Regional said weaker sentiment in retail assets led to a 4.5% decrease in the value of its portfolio in the second half.

Debenhams plans to close up to 50 stores

Retail property investor Capital & Regional PLC (LON:CAL) said it is in ongoing talks with struggling department store chain Debenhams PLC (LON:DEB) about the “right sizing of stores”.

Debenhams plans to close up to 50 stores and to resize others after weak consumer confidence and online competition hit sales.

The retailer pays Capital & Regional an average rent of £8.65 per sq ft on units in three of the group's seven wholly owned assets across 340,000 sq ft, representing 5.8% of total income.

Marks & Spencer Group PLC (LON:MKS) has also closed its Luton store, which is the only full line store remaining in Capital & Regional’s portfolio.

Capital & Regional said it has remerchandised its former department store space with BHS and is advancing plans for the unit.

M&S has eight years remaining on its lease.

Property portfolio value falls on weaker retail sentiment

The property investor said weaker sentiment in retail assets led to a 4.5% decrease in the value of its portfolio to £855.3mln in the second half. That compares to a value of £886.6mln at the end of 2017.

READ: Capital & Regional defies the national trend with increased footfall

The value of retail centres outside London dropped 10.1% while its three assets in London grew 1.1%.

Despite an increasing trend towards online shoppping, footfall across the portfolio increased by 0.7% in the second half, outperforming the national index, which was down 3.7% in the same period.

The firm expects net rental income in 2018 to be flat on the previous year at £51.8mln, shrugging off the impact of 20 company voluntary arrangements (CVA) and retailer restructurings during the year.

A CVA is a type of insolvency process that allows struggling businesses to close stores and negotiate lower rents on other sites.

Leasing transactions completed in 2018 came to 87, including 42 new lettings and 45 renewals, totalling £5.5mln in annual income.

Occupancy across the portfolio rose to 97.0% at the end of December from 96.9% at the end of June.

Adjusted profit for the year is on track to meet expectations.

Shares fell 4.03% to 27.3p in morning trading.

Quick facts: Capital & Regional PLC

Price: 49.2 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £55.02 m

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