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Scentre Group powers through first half despite restrictions

Retail landlord Scentre Group has delivered a substantially better half-year, with profit after tax hitting $400 million compared to a $3.6 billion loss during the same period last year, while profit per security hit 8.88 cents per stapled security – up 28 per cent.

“Today’s results are pleasing, and demonstrate the resilience of our platform and ability to generate cashflow,” Scentre Group chief executive Peter Allen said.

“We have delivered strong operating performance even with a number of government restrictions in place, [and] in those locations impacted less by lockdown we have seen trading conditions better than those experienced in the first half of 2019.”

However, revenue dipped slightly to $1.08 billion, down 1.2 per cent, with total gross rent collected hitting $1.2 billion – an increase of 37 per cent on last year.

Given that a national leasing code of conduct wasn’t reintroduced to the industry until last week, it’s entirely possible that this is due to some tenants paying full rent when compared to the same time last year, though Scentre Group did work to support SME retailers with rent deferrals where appropriate.

And while the impact of Covid-19 continues to interrupt more traditional bricks-and-mortar trade, Scentre Group last year piloted an aggregated ‘click-and-collect’ service which allowed customers to buy products from multiple retailers online, which would then be brought together and made available at a centralised ‘pick up’ location.

This pilot was deemed successful enough that the property firm is launching a fully-fledged version of this service into its centres in the second half of FY21, which will “extend the Westfield in-centre experience and enable customers to have greater accessibility to our business partners, wherever they are, across multi-channels”.

“The first six months has highlighted the fundamental strength of our business and its ability to rebound when restrictions ease,” Allen said.

“Whilst we are currently operating through a period of government restrictions in key markets, we are confident in the ability of our business to perform [and] are well positioned to come through this period strongly.”

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