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Value of Westfield properties expected to fall 10 per cent due to Covid

Covid-19 has hit physical retail especially hard.

Scentre Group, the owner of 42 Westfield Living Centres in Australia and New Zealand, has flagged an estimated 10 per cent decrease in the carrying value of its property portfolio at at June 30, 2020, due to the impact of Covid-19.

Ahead of the release of its half-year results on August 25, the property giant said it expects to report net operating cashflow (after interest, overheads and tax) of more than $250 million.

These are preliminary estimates and remain subject to external audit review and Board review and approval.

The global coronavirus pandemic has hit physical retail especially hard. While shopping centres remained open, foot traffic dropped markedly amid efforts to curb the spread of the highly contagious virus.

In late March, the Australian Government announced a stay-at-home order, leading to a sharp drop in foot traffic in CBD stores and shopping centres, and to a lesser extent in neighbourhood stores and centres. The New Zealand Government went further and closed all non-essential services for roughly four weeks.

Restrictions have largely loosened in recent months, and spending has started to recover, but the state of Victoria, which has been battling a surge of new Covid-19 cases since early July, just entered its strictest lockdown yet.

Scentre Group said it has not received any funds from the Australian Government under the JobKeeper scheme, which suggests its turnover did not fall in the six months to June 30, 2020, by the required amount (30 per cent for most businesses, and 50 per cent for those with an aggregated turnover of more than $1 billion).

Scentre Group’s available liquidity was $4.4 billion as at June 30, 2020.

After temporarily reducing board fees and executive salaries, including the senior leadership team, on May 1, it announced the return of these fees and salaries to their previous levels, effective from August 1, 2020.

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