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.
RESULTS AND VALUATION
In Belgium, 88 leases were signed in 2017 for a total of 26,009m². The most notable deals were with Zara, Bershka, Electro Depot, H&M, Superdry and JD Sports. Occupancy decreased due to friction vacancy in the Nivelles shopping centre to 94.9% at December 31, 2017 (2016: 95.9%).
The strategic decision to introduce free parking in Genk depressed like-for-like rental income, but supported footfall in the centre, which rose by 13%. Tenant sales went up by 1.3%. Like-for-like rental growth for the year 2017 amounted to -1.1% (index 1.8%), of which -1.6% caused by the introduction of free parking in Genk. Footfall in the Belgian shopping centres increased by 2.7%, which is 0.4% above the market average.
On January 25, 2018, Carrefour made a press announcement of its intention to close its two shops in Wereldhave Belgium’s shopping centres Shopping1 (Genk) and Belle-Ile (Liège).
No further formal action was taken by Carrefour and as such, the existing leases remain in force. These represent 3.7% of Wereldhave Belgium’s total rent roll. The unit in Liège has an early termination option as per September 23, 2018 and in Genk at November 30, 2019. Wereldhave Belgium has started to draft alternative plans for these units, which implies reletting and/or a redevelopment or splitting up of the respective units.
The occupancy of the Belgian offices portfolio investment improved from 90.9% at year-end 2016 to 91.7% in 2017. Three new leases (1,765 m²) were concluded in the 'De Veldekens' office park in Berchem-Antwerp, bringing occupancy of the office park to 100%.
The total portfolio was valued at € 786,8m on December 31, 2017 (2016: € 784.5m). The value of the development portfolio stood at € 66.8m at year-end 2017 (2016: € 35.3m). The net increase of
€ 31.5m is mainly due to the expansion works relating to the expansion (15,000 m²) of the shopping centre 'Les Bastions' in Tournai.
The committed development pipeline consists of the expansion project for ‘Les Bastions’ in Tournai. The shopping centre will double from 15,000 m² to 30,000 m² and together with the adjacent retail park the site will provide more than 40,000 m². Particularly during the second half of the year, good progress in letting was made. It is anticipated that the centre will be nearly fully let at the Grand Opening in April 2018, with large and renowned national and international brands.
The extension of the Belle-Ile shopping centre in Liege is not yet committed. Urban planning consent was obtained for a possible extension of 8,000 m², but construction will only start once 70% has been pre-let.
In 2017, an energy audit and performance measurement was commissioned for the shopping centres in Nivelles and Courtrai. Both shopping centres were evaluated in 2016 according to the 'BREEAM In Use' methodology, with the scores ‘Very Good’ for the building and 'Excellent' for the property management. The overall goal of the audit is to optimise energy consumption, with an acceptable IRR on investments. In the shopping centre ‘Belle-Ile’ in Liège, a sun protective film was placed to prevent overheating in summer and reduce the energy consumption for cooling.
In 2017, Wereldhave Belgium issued a new general policy on energy, water and waste. Green charters have now almost generally been endorsed by our suppliers and partners. In every shopping centre of the portfolio a sustainability committee was established, as integrated part of the consultation committee. It enhances the interaction between tenant and landlord by the exchange of knowledge and possibly setting up new partnerships. Increased involvement means added value to the actions.