Office rents provide lift for Great Portland Estates

One of London’s biggest landlords has recorded its best quarterly rent collection since before the pandemic as workers return to offices and footfall picks up on high streets.


Great Portland Estates, which controls a portfolio of central London offices and retail property, has collected 84 per cent of all the rent due at the end of last month, the most it has recovered since December 2019, before the coronavirus forced most businesses to temporarily shut down. That compares with 73 per cent a few days after March’s quarter-end and 76 per cent shortly after the June collection date.


Great Portland became a quoted company in 1959 after the acquisition of the property holdings of Basil and Howard Samuel, cousins of Lord Samuel, the founder of Land Securities. Two thirds of its assets are central London office buildings, including 18 Hanover Square in Mayfair, home of KKR, the private equity firm, which has a 5.4 per cent stake in its landlord.


The absence of tourists and office workers in central London for much of the past 18 months has weighed on businesses and their landlords.


However, Great Portland painted a rosier picture in its latest quarterly update. Over the past three months, it has signed up new tenants who, between them, will pay £14.3 million in rent each year. That is 10.4 per cent more than bosses had expected when they jotted down their estimates in March. A further £3.3 million of lettings, 7.3 per cent above forecasts, are also under offer.


Colm Lauder, a real estate analyst at Goodbody, said the “impressive” new lettings highlighted the “further rebound in the London office market”.


Toby Courtauld, chief executive of Great Portland, said: “We have had a strong quarter, maintaining our leasing momentum as central London continues to reopen and people return to the office. Occupier demand is robust, focusing on prime grade A space and flex office products, both of which play to our strengths.”


The group said it had sold an 11-storey office block on Old Street, central London, for £181.5 million, 5 per cent more than management had expected. Shares rose 4½p, or 0.6 per cent, to 754p.


The Times (Tom Howard) -

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