UK Commercial Property REIT Continuation of strategy to reduce retail exposure

UK Commercial Property REIT Limited

UK Commercial Property REIT (LON:UKCM), announced its unaudited quarterly Net Asset Value as at 30 September 2019. The Company owns a diversified portfolio of high quality income producing UK commercial property and is advised by Aberdeen Standard Investments.

Net Asset Value

  • NAV per share of 90.5p (30 June 2019: 93.2p), resulting in a NAV total return of -1.9% for the quarter with continued low net gearing of 17.0%*.
  • Like-for-like portfolio capital value decreased by -2.1% with overall capital performance net of capital expenditure investment of -2.2%. This was driven by further valuation pressure in the retail sector and, in particular, the Company’s only shopping centre, which is in Swindon but has now been contracted for sale. This compares to a -0.7% fall in the MSCI IPD monthly index over the period. After the disposal of Manchester in the quarter, the portfolio is now valued at £1,419 million (30 June 2019: £1,459 million).
  • The passing rent at 30 September 2019 was £66.2 million compared to an ERV of £80.2 million demonstrating the reversionary nature of the portfolio. In addition, over the last 12 months, 99% of the Company’s rent roll continues to be collected within 21 days.
  • With close to a 50% exposure, the Company’s current, strategic overweight position to the industrial /logistics sector, with a bias towards urban stock and the south-east, continues to provide a positive contribution to returns and contains the majority of the Company’s reversionary potential. In the office sector, where the Company has a 16.5% exposure with approximately two thirds outside London, capital value has remained resilient whilst tenant leasing enquiries in the relatively small 7% vacancy have picked up over the quarter.

Investment activity – Progress on strategic aim of reducing retail exposure

Two retail investment sales have been contracted:

  • On 30 September the Company completed the sale of a retail unit for £10.3 million in Market Street, Manchester, let to Adidas with a lease break in 1.5 years; this was completed in line with its June valuation.
  • Post the quarter end, on 29 October, the Company exchanged a binding contract to sell its one remaining shopping centre asset, The Parade, Swindon, for £23.35 million, which was in line with the September valuation.

The sales will provide the Company with additional firepower for reinvestment into assets that offer more sustainable income and are in line with the Company’s strategy of reducing exposure to assets that have significant future return risk. After completion of the sale of The Parade, the retail weighting of the Company’s portfolio will be 21.6% compared to the benchmark weighting of 32%^.

^ as at 30 June 2019

Continued Asset management and leasing momentum

  • A Lease renewal with Compagnie Fruitiere UK Limited at Newton’s Court, Dartford, for a 2 year lease at a rent of £711,000 per annum, up 30% on the previous passing rent of £497,700 per annum and 11% ahead of ERV.
  • Completion of a new 10 year lease with SPL Powerlines at M8 Interlink, Coatbridge, Glasgow securing £88,416 per annum in line with ERV. 

Portfolio occupancy remained relatively constant at 92% with over half of the remaining vacancy in well located industrial assets.

Strong Balance Sheet with significant resources

  • As at 30 September, prudent net gearing of 17.0%* remains one of the lowest in the quoted REIT sector (gross gearing of 18.4%**) at a blended interest rate of 2.8%
  • £85 million of unutilised revolving credit facility still available for investment

*Net gearing – Gross borrowing less cash divided by total assets (excluding cash) less current liabilities

**Gross gearing – Gross borrowings divided by total assets less current liabilities

Director Appointment

The Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Chris Fry to the Board from 1 January 2020. Mr Fry is a Chartered Surveyor and has significant experience of the UK property industry. He is currently Chief Executive Officer of a privately owned property company, Kingsbridge Estates Limited, having previously been a Senior Fund Manager with LaSalle Investment Management. As previously announced, Mr Andrew Wilson will retire from the Board on 31 December 2019 and be replaced as Chair by Mr Ken McCullagh who is currently Chair of the Audit Committee and Senior Independent Director.

There are no further disclosures required under listing rule 9.6.13.

Andrew Wilson, Chair of UKCM, commented: “Significant further progress has been made to the Company’s ongoing strategy of reducing its exposure to retail.  The sale of two retail assets has further reduced the Company’s weighting to this sector which is already significantly below that of the benchmark. The portfolio also remains highly reversionary as evidenced by the leasing activity undertaken during the period which locked in some of the rental growth that we expect to be a key driver of future income and shareholder returns.  I am also delighted that Chris Fry has accepted an invitation to join the Board from January next year.  He brings with him a wealth of property expertise and experience which I am sure will be invaluable to the Company in the future.”

Will Fulton, Lead Manager of UKCM at Aberdeen Standard Investments, said: “We took the opportunity to capitalise on good investor interest ahead of a potential lease break to sell our High Street retail asset in central Manchester.  We were also pleased to make further progress towards reducing our exposure to retail after the period end, when we signed an agreement to sell The Parade in Swindon, our only remaining shopping centre, to an investor with a different return and risk profile. Around half of the portfolio is now weighted towards the industrial and logistics sector of which more than half is of an urban nature – a sub-sector where we continue to see strong interest and rental prospects. Looking ahead, we will continue to assess further opportunities to recycle capital through strategic disposals whilst making investments to grow the portfolio.”

Good news travels fast (but only if you make that happen):

Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on whatsapp

AIM All Share Index