Wereldhave focuses in Belgium on convenience shopping centres that have a dominant position in their catchment area and that preferably have potential for further expansion. Wereldhave Belgium is a listed company in which Wereldhave holds a stake of nearly 70%.
Wereldhave’s portfolio in Belgium is comprised of shopping centres in Genk, Liège, Nivelles, Tournai, Courtrai, Ghent and Waterloo and redevelopments in Tournai and Waterloo. The remainder consist of offices in Antwerp and Brussels.
The Tournai retail park was completed during the first quarter of 2016 and transferred to the investment portfolio. The Madou office building in Brussels was sold on December 29, 2016 for € 18m, with the condition that operational risk and reward until February 2018 will remain for Wereldhave Belgium.
There were 36 leases renewed or rotated and these were continued at terms which are generally equal or slightly above the previous rent. In addition, 13 new leases were signed. The like-for-like rental growth of the Belgian shopping centre portfolio for the year 2016 amounted to 4.9%, but footfall decreased by 2.4% (market average -3.3%). The renegotiation of the terms of the lease for the parking garage in Genk had a one off positive impact on rental income in 2016.
The retail park in Tournai, which was taken to the investment portfolio in February 2016, is now 97% let. Occupancy of the shopping centre portfolio improved in 2016 from 94.9% at the beginning of the year to 95.9% at December 31, 2016. The shopping centres in Nivelles, Tournai and Liege are nearly fully let. Occupancy in Courtrai and Genk Shopping 1 improved to 93.4% and 81.9% respectively. Important new leases were the New Yorker in Genk, an Action, ZEB and Alain Afflelou for Tournai and AlterSmoke in three centres. In Courtrai a Bel&Bo was signed.
DEVELOPMENT & SUSTAINABILTIY
In Belgium, works for the construction of a parking garage as the kick-off for the renovation of the Les Bastions shopping centre are proceeding as planned. The development in Waterloo is still in discussion with the municipality and no permit request was filed yet. In Liege, a permit was obtained for the extension of the Belle-Ile shopping centre with 9,000m². Works will commence when a substantial preletting has been achieved. This development project is not yet committed.
Wereldhave Belgium's principle with regard to new developments and existing buildings is to achieve a BREEAM 'Very Good' rating. In 2016 Wereldhave Belgium started with the BREEAM In Use assessment for Nivelles and Kortrijk, both were awarded end of that year Very Good on Asset level and Excellent on Building Management level. In 2015 Shopping 1 in Genk and Overpoort in Gent received a Very Good New Construction certificate. Examples of certain components of these certificates are: energy, waste and water reducing measures, attention for a healthy environment, communication to visitors and tenants. To provide a broader base for sustainability in the shopping centres, uniform green leases were concluded with new tenants, so we can lower our ecological footprint together. For 2017 we expect the certificate for Les Bastions Retail Park. Les Bastions Shopping Centre is in construction phase, opening expected in 2018 and Belle-Ile will lay its first brick very soon with an expected opening in 2019. Other sustainability priorities are: further strengthen connection to local community in the shopping centres, optimize internal procedures, satisfaction surveys for our visitors and tenants and personnel.
Although Wereldhave Belgium already applies a material checklist since the end of the nineties, this item can still be seen as one of its biggest challenges for the future. Shortage of raw materials for building materials will increase the coming decades. Careful consideration of materials and (construction) waste management are items in the internal materials checklist, the requirements for new projects and sustainability contracts with construction companies. In addition, during the previous year Wereldhave Belgium has taken measures for the safety of people who work in, for or at Wereldhave Belgium properties. Examples are roof safety and the installing of cameras in shopping centres and office buildings.