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Hammerson And Westfield’s Croydon Scheme Once Looked A Sure Bet, But Now Even Flagship Malls Are Suffering

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Hammerson And Westfield’s Croydon Scheme Once Looked A Sure Bet, But Now Even Flagship Malls Are Suffering
Hammerson and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield's new scheme in Croydon

It took many years and much pain to put the site together, and it was supposed to be the fourth point in a compass of London super malls: Westfield London in the west, Brent Cross in the north, Westfield Stratford in the east and Hammerson and Westfield’s 1.5M SF, £1.4B redevelopment of the Whitgift and Centrale centres in Croydon in the south.

But after already deferring an extension to Brent Cross due to the turmoil in the retail sector, Hammerson today announced that it and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield are “reviewing the [Croydon] scheme to ensure it responds to changing retailer requirements and is appropriate for the future”.

The partnership received a revised planning consent for the scheme in 2018, and was due to start construction in 2019.

Hammerson flagged the review in annual results which show that, while they are proving more resilient than other retail properties, even the value of dominant UK regional malls has suffered due to the rise in retail tenant failures caused by changing consumer patterns. The value of what Hammerson calls its flagship UK malls fell about 9.5% to £2.9B. Retail sales growth at these centres fell 2.9% and footfall growth fell by 1.8%, and so net rental income was down by 1.3%.

Following a failed takeover bid for rival Intu and the rejection of a bid from French rival Klépierre, Hammerson has come under pressure from activist shareholder Elliott Advisors, and it is looking to sell £900M of assets and find two new board members.

The company also gave an insight into its new City Quarters division, which will look to add uses other than retail to existing and future schemes. When they are kick-started, redevelopments and new phases at schemes like Victoria in Leeds, Martineau Galleries in Birmingham and Broadmarsh in Bristol will include workspace, educational facilities, residential and hotels as well as retail and restaurants.