The Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) yesterday released operational results for the six months to June 2004 with solid performances in each of the markets in which the group operates.
“All parts of our global portfolio are performing well,” said managing directors Peter and Steven Lowy. “The result is particularly pleasing given that management has also completed a complex corporate restructuring while at the same time intensively managing the group’s shopping centre operations.”
Since completion of the merger in July 2004 the Group has acquired interests in $1 billion of additional properties in Australia and the United States. The Westfield Group now has interests in 124 shopping centres with a value of more than $36.5 billion comprising 20,200 retailers and approximately 9.8 million square metres of retail space.
Financial results for the relevant period to 30 June 2004 for each of Westfield Holdings, Westfield Trust and Westfield America Trust will be lodged in late August and are expected to be in line with forecasts contained in the Explanatory Memorandum issued in May 2004.
Australia and New Zealand
Retail sales in the group’s 32 owned and managed Australian centres totalled $5.0 billion, up 11.1% for the six months to 30 June 2004. On a comparable basis, total retail sales increased 7.7% and specialty store sales also increased 7.7% for the six month period.
Retail sales for the group’s 11 shopping centres in New Zealand increased 5.6% to total NZ$700 million for the six months to 30 June 2004. On a comparable basis, total retail sales increased 4.4% and specialty store sales increased 6.4% for the six month period.
The Australian and New Zealand portfolios have continued to perform well and maintained occupancy levels in excess of 99.5% with retailer demand continuing to be strong.
During the six month period to June 2004 Westfield completed the redevelopment at West City in Auckland, New Zealand.
There is currently $1.2 billion of projects under construction in Australia and New Zealand including the continuation of Bondi Junction in Sydney, The Pines in Melbourne and Riccarton in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The $750 million redevelopment of Bondi Junction, the group’s largest project to date, is nearing completion. The centre reflects the latest in innovation and provides a world class shopping centre which has been well received by retailers and consumers.
The group has recently commenced construction at Helensvale on the Gold Coast, Mt Gravatt in Brisbane and Queensgate in Wellington, New Zealand.
A further $2.0 billion of projects are currently planned in Australia and New Zealand.
In August 2004, Westfield announced a number of property transactions including four new joint ventures with Deutsche Diversified Fund, worth $790 million. In addition, Westfield enhanced its holding in the Sydney’s CBD with the acquisition of Skygarden and Imperial Arcade. Westfield also acquired the remaining 50% interest in its existing property holdings at Newmarket in Auckland, New Zealand.
Post completion of these transactions Westfield will have interests in 51 shopping centres in Australia and New Zealand with a value of $16.9 billion, comprising 3.4 million square metres of retail space and 10,200 retailers.
Westfield UK portfolio continues to perform well with occupancy levels in excess of 99% at 30 June 2004. Retail sales in the UK generally were up approximately 2.6% on a like-for-like basis for the six month period to June 2004. This has been reflected in sales achieved at Westfield’s centres.
In April, outline planning permission was received for a £140 million redevelopment of the Friary shopping centre in Guildford. This represents Westfield’s fourth outline planning consent.
The group anticipates commencing construction on the £200 million redevelopment of The Eagle Centre, at Derby by the end of this calendar year.
Westfield has interests in seven properties in the UK with a book value of £930 million, comprising 700 retailers and 250,000 sq