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British Land eyes open-air retail parks

The group also claimed that it has executed £1.3bn of capital activity since 1 April 2020

Property group British Land has unveiled plans to invest in more out-of-town retail parks as it capitalises on a click and collect strategy.

The company is set to bet on a faster return of open-air locations where social distancing can be more easily managed than in covered shopping centres.

In line with the strategy, British Land has recently completed the acquisition of Biggleswade’s The A1 Retail Park for £49m, and expects to finalise a roughly £150m valued Hercules Unit Trust (HUT) portfolio of ten retail parks in June 2021.

Moreover, the property company is also looking to submit planning applications for over 1m sq ft of space in Teesside and Meadowhall.

The group said that while it is “exploring further opportunities to acquire high quality, well located retail parks” it will also “remain disciplined” with return requirements.

It added: “We expect market rents for covered shopping centres to take longer to stabilise than at retail parks due to generally higher occupancy cost ratios for this format and lower visitor numbers during Covid-19.”

The announcements came in British Land’s operational update, which also claimed that the firm has executed £1.3bn of capital activity since 1 April 2020.

The figure features £560m of retail sales, as the proceeds are recycled into the group’s latest acquisitions.

As of 31 March 2021, British Land had £1.8bn in undrawn facilities and cash available, with no requirements to refinance until early 2025.

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