Nepi Rockcastle “did very well compared with its peers” by lifting distributable earnings per share 9.6%. File picture: James White
CAPE TOWN - Nepi Rockcastle “did very well compared with its peers” by lifting distributable earnings per share 9.6percent to 29.02euro cents (R4.92) in the first half of this year, chief executive Alex Morar said.

He said in an interview on Friday that a primary reason they had performed well relative to other shopping centre groups in Europe was that retail sales growth was stronger in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe over the period.

Also, Nepi Rockcastle invested in centres that were dominant in their respective catchment areas.

“It costs a bit more capital, but it is a way to help us ensure the sustainability of the centres,” Morar added.

“Nepi Rockcastle continues to leverage its strengths and consolidate as the dominant, high-quality shopping centre owner in Europe’s highest-growth region,” he said.

Net rental and related income rose 21.3percent to R199.8million in the six months to June 30 for the Amsterdam and Joburg-listed group.

Vacancies were 2.6percent, down from 2.8percent in December last year.

The gearing ratio was 32.5percent, below a target of 35percent.

The share price traded at R131.72 on the JSE on Friday - which was 18percent up over three months.

Morar said they maintained an active refurbishment and extension programme. The extension and upgrade of Solaris Shopping Centre in Opole, Poland, was completed in May. Footfall increased 26percent, turnover by more than 100percent due mainly to the addition of 40 new stores.

Shopping City Sibiu in Romania was extended and refurbished in April.

The last phase was expected to open in the fourth quarter of the year.

Pogoria Shopping Centre in Poland was extended in April. Construction work had a limited impact on tenant’s operations and turnover increased.

The food court at Braila Mall in Braila, Romania, opened in April after refurbishment and closure of the ice rink.

A retail park was opened adjacent to the group’s Arena Park in Zagreb, Croatia, in May.

Arena saw double digit growth in turnover and footfall.

The group started disposing of its Romanian office portfolio in May, and its 50percent interest in The Office Cluj-Napoca was sold at a premium to book value.

AFI Europe was doing a due diligence on the remaining office buildings in Romania.

Residential developments adjacent to its malls were being planned. A second project would be developed in Sibiu.

The Shopping City Buzau in Romania was being extended and refurbished, and the first phase opened this month.

Building permission had been obtained for the Targu Mures Shopping City development in Romania

In April, the refurbishment of Bonarka City Centre in Krakow was started. The Forum Liberec mall in Liberec, Romania, started refurbishments in the same month. A retail park was being developed in Serbia.

About 158 million visits were recorded at the group’s shopping centres in the first half, a 1.2percent increase over the same period a year before.