THE owner of Southampton’s Westquay has collected less than half its second quarter rent despite retail restrictions easing.

Hammerson, whose property portfolio also includes the Birmingham Bullring, London’s Brent Cross and Bicester Village, said it had received 48 per cent of second quarter rent due in the UK as market conditions remained “challenging”.

Across the whole group, rent received stood at 40 per cent, with £27million still outstanding.

But Hammerson, which last week revealed talks over a potential deal to sell its portfolio of UK retail parks, said a rise in shopper numbers across England was encouraging since the reopening of non-essential retail on April 12.

Westquay owner Hammerson collects less than half its rent

It said around 90 per cent of operators in England were now able to trade and shopper footfall at its sites was “competitive with pre-pandemic levels”.

Footfall at its flagship sites is running at around four fifths of what was achieved in the same week in April 2019 before the coronavirus crisis struck.

Hammerson said: “The company continues to work hard with brand partners to focus on improving collection rates on agreed rents.

“Looking forward to when all occupiers are able to operate, we expect collection rates for both the current year and full-year 2020 to continue to improve as restrictions are eased across territories.”

The group saw rental income suffer the biggest fall in the company’s history in 2020, plunging 48.9 per cent to £157.6m as shops were forced to close for much of the year due to lockdowns and restrictions.

Hammerson’s recent full-year results revealed it had to write down the value of its shopping centres and stores by nearly £2billion and saw adjusted profits plummet 82.9 per cent to £36.5m.

The group also announced that Himanshu Raja would join as chief financial officer on April 26, succeeding James Lenton.

Hammerson confirmed earlier this month that it was in discussions over a possible sale of its seven retail park sites.

It came after reports said it was eyeing a deal worth around £350m with Canadian private equity firm Brookfield. Hammerson’s retail park portfolio consists of parks in Falkirk, Didcot, Middlesbrough, St Helens, Telford, Merthyr Tydfil and Rugby.