StockMarketWire.com - London West End property investor Shaftesbury said it had decided to scrap its final dividend, while warning that fresh government lockdowns could stymie a recent recovery in retail footfall.

The company said 41% of its rent due for the six months through September had been collected.

Another 10% was expected to be subject to deferred collection arrangements, 23% was being waived and 26% remained outstanding at 11 September.

The company's EPRA vacancy rate at 31 August was 9.7% of rental value, compared to 4.8% at the end of March.

Residential accounted for 46% of the increase, as occupiers from overseas returned to their countries of origin and demand from long-stay international business and leisure travellers halted.

Shaftesbury said the West End had seen a gradual recovery in footfall since government restrictions were relaxed in late June.

Most of the company's 611 restaurants, cafes, pubs and shops had now reopened.

'However, responding to the recent sharp rise in UK Covid-19 infection rates, the government is now re-introducing national and localised restrictions, with a risk that further measures may be implemented until the situation is brought under control,' the company added.

'In view of current conditions and uncertain near-term outlook, the board has decided not to declare a final dividend in respect of the year ending 30 September 2020, but intends to resume dividend payments as soon as it considers prudent.'

Shaftesbury said interest cover covenant waivers for the periods of nine to twelve months from April 2020 were completed, while constructive discussions were now underway to extend their duration.



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