Shopping centre owner Hammerson (HMSO.L) has agreed to sell some of its retail parks to a Canadian private equity firm after a tough year that saw the company's property portfolio lose billions of pounds.
Brookfield will pay around £350m ($480m) for seven retail parks, the Sunday Times first reported.
The seven sites include retail parks in Falkirk, Didcot, Middlesbrough, St Helens, Telford, Merthyr Tydfil and Rugby.
It comes after Hammerson reported it suffered significant losses in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, and is attempting to sell of some of its malls to survive the crisis.
The company posted a £1.7bn in March — the largest in its history — after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped £2bn off the value of its property portfolio.
Hammerson, which owns the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham and Brent Cross in London, said losses widened from £781m in 2019 to £1.7bn last year, as the value of its shopping centres in the UK, France and Ireland pummelled.
The portfolio value at the end of 2020 was £6.33bn, down from £8.32bn the year prior. This was driven by a 35.8% decline in its UK flagship retail destinations.
Hammerson's net rental income for the year dropped 41% halving to £158m. All but essential businesses in the firm’s centres have been forced to shut for the majority of last year, with many shops have withheld or deferred rental payments.
On Monday, non-essential shops, outdoor dining and activities will be able to resume to trade, since being shutter on 5 January.
Last month, the government announced that non-essential retailers will be given extended opening hours to help businesses recover and customers to shop safely.
Under the new rules from 12 April retailers will be able to stay open from 7AM until 10PM from Monday to Saturday.
On Saturday, new figures showed that footfall across UK retail destinations "crept up" amid the warm weather and as the government lifted its official stay at home order at the end of March.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that shoppers will feel more confident about returning to shops than they did in June 2020, when no COVID vaccination had yet been developed. Adding "the safety measures put in place" are helping customers return to stores.
New figures from the BRC and Sensormatic Solutions show total UK footfall fell by 68.7% in March year-on-two-year (Yo2Y), with a 4.9 percentage point improvement from February this year. This is above the 3-month average decline of 72.3%.
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