Archives for June 2022

S&J Industrial Estate First Project Outside North America and First In Africa To Secure Prestigious Ecodistricts Certification

Johannesburg, 30 June 2022 – Redefine Properties and Abland Property Developers are extremely proud to see the industrial precinct in Germiston, S&J Industrial Estate, become the first project outside North America, and the first in Africa, to secure an EcoDistricts™ Certified endorsement.

In a truly collaborative approach to saving and protecting the planet and providing sustainable solutions for communities, the EcoDistricts initiative guides city makers to take a collaborative, holistic, neighbourhood-scale approach to community design to achieve rigorous, meaningful performance outcomes.

“What really stands out is that the certification was also the quickest yet, from registration to certification, and so it shows that our commitment to entrenching ESG in everything we do is bearing fruit,” says Anelisa Keke, Chief sustainability officer for Redefine.

“To be on the team that has taken land that forms part of the undeveloped mining belt in Johannesburg and converted this to an industrial estate that has now been recognised as an EcoDistrict initiative is extremely exciting and a great achievement for all involved. This aligns with Abland’s drive toward sustainability, which is evidenced by various commercial projects that have international Green Star ratings” says Chris Roberg, Director of Abland responsible for S&J Industrial Development.

The EcoDistricts approach is regarded as a new model of public-private partnership that emphasises innovation and the deployment of district-scale best practices to create neighbourhoods of the future, which are resilient, vibrant, resource efficient and just. These include impact creation through, amongst others, resource regeneration, health and well-being, and economic prosperity.

S&J Industrial Estate forms part of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM), the largest metropolitan municipality in Gauteng, and the sprawling estate spans an impressive 210ha. It caters predominantly for industrial use and is a commercial offering in the area. The City of Johannesburg is also a part of the international C40 Cities initiative, which includes driving meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change.

Last year, Redefine Properties and Abland Property Developers, under the guidance of Solid Green, established the S&J Industrial Estate EcoDistricts steering committee (SJEDSC) with the intention to create the initial framework to progress towards a model rooted in community sustainability, ecological awareness, and conservation.

Adrie Fourie, Head of Solid Green’s department of sustainable cities and research, comments, “The EcoDistricts Protocol recognises that every community has the ability and need to advance a place-based sustainability agenda. It is designed as a flexible performance framework rather than a prescriptive standard. District teams can tailor the protocol to local circumstances, set performance targets based on local conditions and aspirations, and measure progress against the protocol’s imperatives and priorities.”

“The successful conclusion of the certification component is an exciting start to the long-term journey for this project. It also showcases what can be achieved in the SA property sector in securing a future we can all be proud of,” says Johann Nell, Industrial asset manager at Redefine.

The future reporting requirements are stringent. The project will be required to submit biennial progress reports beginning on the second anniversary of certification and continuing every two years thereafter. Every urban regeneration decision will be viewed through a comprehensive lens, driving the delivery of meaningful performance outcomes, and setting the conditions for sustainable, collective impact.

“Our purpose is to create and manage spaces in a way that changes lives, and we are therefore entrenching ESG into everything we do. This requires an integrated approach to making strategic choices that will sustain value creation for all stakeholders through focusing on what matters most. The EcoDistricts success is a crucial stepping stone and endorsement of the progress we are making to ensure a better future for all South Africans,” concludes Keke.

Redefine Launches Iconic Kwena Square, Showcasing Abundant Natural Beauty and Meeting Evolving Shopper Demands

Johannesburg, 29 June 2022 – Kwena Square, which gets its name from the Sotho word for crocodile, was officially launched today by Redefine Properties in Little Falls, Roodepoort, with Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Cllr Mpho Phalatse, in attendance.

Developed at a cost of R200 million, this is a convenience centre with a difference; designed to tastefully showcase the beauty and vibrance of the area, be environmentally friendly, and efficiently meet evolving shopper demands.

In addition to the existing Leroy Merlin and Decathlon, the centre will house 23 new stores anchored by national retailers like Checkers, Checkers Liquor and Clicks.

With this centre, a lot of “firsts” have been achieved. Apart from the unique African name, it will be the proud location of the country’s first RocoMamas drive-through and will see the inaugural launch of a Little West Packers toy and baby store.

Integration of the local community was a central driver behind the construction, leasing and provision of business opportunities for local subcontractors. Local tenants, showcasing the best SA has to offer, include Benita’s Food Emporium, Neo Vision, My Krafts Brewery, Quello Deli, Nossa Casa Portuguese Restaurant, Suggeee Bar, Uncle Joe Florist, and Fresh House Butchery.

A standout feature in the build-up to the launch was a completely community-driven project to find the best local talent to develop the unique design of the benches and dustbins to accentuate the centre’s aesthetics and portray the theme of Kwena Square.

The Honourable Mayor unveiled the benches in a special ceremony today, with designer Siviwe Jali from Umugqa Studio proudly watching his brilliant work being opened to the public for the first time.

Jali, who was also the finalist in the Nando’s Young Hot Talent 2020 bench design competition, has established a name in the industrial industry and hopes to grow in the retail sphere.

With sustainability high on the agenda for Redefine, an array of rooftop solar panels will generate as much as 40% of the electricity required by the centre – a key feature that will reduce the load on the main grid.

Leon Kok, COO of Redefine Properties says the centre comes just as demand for convenience shopping rises.

“The fact that our centre is so aesthetically pleasing is a major plus factor, together with its strong focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects, while offering ease of use, open ventilation and safety. The completion of the project during the pandemic was notable and reflects our commitment and our tenants’ confidence in the project,” says Kok.

Hyprop Continues to Reduce Debt and Reposition its Portfolios in SA and EE

Wednesday, 29 June 2022. Hyprop, which manages dominant retail centres in mixed-use precincts in key economic nodes in South Africa (SA), Eastern Europe (EE) and sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), said in a pre-close update to the market that its consolidated loan-to-value (LTV) was 40.5% at end-May 2022, down from a historic 47%. This is the result of a number of interventions that includes the completion of the disposal of the Delta City Mall in Podgorica, Montenegro, realised net proceeds of €70 million, which, with other debt repayments, helped to reduce Euro-denominated equity debt from €373 million to €111 million. The in-country Euro debt was reduced from €365 million to €280 million.

Hyprop has taken 100% control of the remaining four centres in the EE portfolio consisting of City Centre one East and City Centre one West both in Zagreb, Croatia, The Mall in Sofia, Bulgaria and Skopje City Mall in Skopje, North Macedonia.

Hyprop made good progress with the repositioning of its SA retail portfolio for sustainable growth with an increase in its tenant turnover of 16% in the last five months compared to 2021 while foot count across the portfolio was 8.6% higher. The retail vacancies are down to 1.4% at end-May 2022, which is the lowest level since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The group is also pleased to report a remarkable improvement in the trading performance of its entertainment tenants.

In EE, vacancies are a low 0.8%, which compares well with 1.3% two years prior. The group successfully completed the 2-year refurbishment project at Skopje City Mall and the four centres’ trading performance are back to pre-covid levels after all the Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted. In the five months to end-May 2022, tenant turnover from EE was 15.4% higher than in the same period in 2021 and foot count was 11.7% better. Hyprop CEO Morné Wilken said trading in the EE centres has not been directly impacted by the Russia/Ukraine war, but higher electricity and fuel prices may affect retail spending and tenant occupancy costs. Some tenants are cautious about expansions at this time.

New tenants move in
In the first few months of this year, Hyprop has attracted a number of exciting new tenants to its properties in SA and EE.

At Canal Walk in Cape Town, the first Zara and Ted Baker stores in the Hyprop portfolio have now opened, as well as two new concept stores: Woolworths’ Quick Service Restaurant, NOW NOW, and Retail Box. At Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg, the tenant mix was strengthened with the opening of an iStore for new products (complementing its pre-owned store) and a TechMarkit.

Skopje City Mall opened a new Intimissimi, N Fashion and Amanti Pasta Bar outlets while The Mall in Sofia secured Ikigai (a new restaurant), Salad Box, Next Kids, 1001 Pantofki, Al Amar perfumes and AC&Co as new tenants.

Hyprop is continuing to pursue an exit from its sub-Saharan assets, while driving value creation through active asset management. Most of the Covid-19 restrictions in Nigeria and Ghana have been lifted, allowing restaurants and cinemas to operate at full capacity. Turnover in Ghanaian Cedi was up 7.4% in the four months to end-April 2022 compared with the same period in 2021, but because of the depreciation of the Cedi, it was down 12.1% in dollars. By end-April, foot count from both the Nigerian and Ghanaian assets for the four months was 0.7% lower than a year before.

Working towards long-term strategic goals
“We are confident that our strategy remains relevant,” Wilken said. “We intend to continue reducing our Euro equity debt, recycling assets that do not fit our long-term strategy and securing new growth opportunities. We are making progress on the exit of our sub-Saharan centres and continue to manage these assets effectively whilst busy with this process.”

He said the group had done an in-depth analysis of all ESG factors on its South African business and would extend this to its EE portfolio, which had helped in formulating a sustainability framework. It is fulfilling its responsibility to address some of the world’s priority challenges by creating spaces and connecting people, partnering for climate resilience, and ensuring it pursues an inclusive value chain.

In late September, Hyprop will release its financial results for the year to 30 June 2022.

Did Covid Provide Opportunity for the Retail Sector to Redefine the Space?

Over a year ago, only a few could have predicted that the coronavirus would spread widely beyond the borders of China, and spiral into a global pandemic -cause a recession and change the trajectory of many retail businesses

By Amelia Beattie, Liberty Two Degrees Chief Executive

This has caused a massive shift, and the pandemic’s impact has forced the sector to quickly adapt, abruptly enforcing a no point of return. It is, however, not all doom and gloom for smart retail. The sector offers opportunities in the recreation of customer experience post the pandemic.

The first of these opportunities is striking the balance between rediscovering human contact in brick and mortar and maximizing the online experience through an omnichannel approach. While some may hold the view that the rise of e-commerce will eliminate the physical store, this is not quite the reality, locally.  In fact, a slightly different take is seen with foot count in quality, well-positioned malls increasing as people still look to this space to drive an overall lifestyle experience.  As a result, we need to consider and re-examine how the digital and physical world joins forces to thrive in the new normal – with agility at the fore.

To survive and thrive in this newfound reality, the first step is to maximize insight obtained from smart data solutions, with opportunities to be delivered alongside traditional experiential strategies. In addition, a proliferation of digital solutions that bring the much sought-after convenience and frictionless experiences to customers and enhance operational efficiencies of tenants is key.

The expectation for customer experience to be consistent across all touchpoints, to ensure customer needs are being met wherever interaction occurs with brands, has been a long-standing one, exacerbated by the pandemic. An environmentally sustainable approach to the customer experience journey, that considers the impact of the environment forms part and parcel. Building tomorrow together with customers, both tenants, and shoppers, to make a positive and impactful change is an important opportunity to grasp. The United Nations has developed sustainable development goals to be achieved by 2030. Of these goals, the most critical to reducing the footprint on the natural environment include:

  • Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
  • Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.
  • Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
  • Ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns; and
  • Taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Creating robust assets that can benefit generations, allowing for agile and adaptable environments that align to net-zero goals is vital and one that the sector should consider in policymaking. Behavioural change is a significant driver of minimising environmental impact and facilitating awareness. For tenants, green leases with governing energy efficiency, water consumption, and waste management are one way of many to achieve this.

For shoppers, instituting educational programmes aimed at educating, inspiring, and appealing to shoppers to change and join the movement to adopting climate-positive practices in their everyday lives is a good start. It is imperative to take stakeholders with you on the sustainability journey.

Creating safe spaces, as the third opportunity, should not be compromised and should underpin all experiences within retail environments, this shows the duty of care to stakeholders. Retail environments should exemplify the highest standards of hygiene and safety achieved through; strategically placed sanitisation stations, continuous fogging, physical distancing measures, touchless parking, kerb-side pick-ups, and decals to support COVID-19 safety measures across various high-volume areas among other things. Safeguarding shoppers, tenants, and mall employees through stringent security measures are critical.

While safety measures have been adopted across many malls, these have been necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis. With the new normal firmly in place, many measures will more than likely be adopted for the long term. Customers will also start looking for brands that align with their personal priorities including visible safety and hygiene measures and experiential offerings that consider and minimise the impact on the natural environment. This will be crucial for business success as well as setting retailers apart. This, coupled with providing customers with the much-needed convenience as well as the flexibility to meet ever-changing lifestyles will be the true differentiator.

The pandemic took its toll on the industry, however, it unlocked opportunities for the retail sector to be innovative while placing the consumer top of mind. Moving forward the retail sector must transform and adapt the narrative.

As Liberty Two Degrees, our commitment to maintaining the quality of our assets predates the pandemic, and we have long maintained that quality, established through our building blocks of Smart Spaces, Good Spaces, Interactive Spaces, and Safe Spaces is a key driver in fostering customer loyalty – and this has not, and will not, change.

Stor-Age Continues To Deliver

• Final dividend of 55.30 cents per share
• Distributable income per share up 7.5%
• Total return of 16.5% (distribution and net tangible asset value growth per share)
• Rental income and net property operating income up 15.0% and 16.7% respectively
• Same-store rental income up 12.3% (SA 10.0%; UK 21.2%)
• Portfolio occupancy up 24 100m², closing at 88.1% (SA 88.1%; UK 88.3%)
• Same-store occupancy 90.0%+ in SA and the UK
• Loan-to-value ratio of 27.9%, net debt hedged 84.3%
• Net investment property value up 22.4% to R9.26 billion
• Raised R575 million in an oversubscribed accelerated bookbuild in January 2022
• Acquired 11 trading properties (SA 2; UK 9), completed three new developments in SA and
increased portfolio GLA by 56 500m²
• Development pipeline of 14 properties, secured four new opportunities (SA 2; UK 2)
• Nedbank JV – construction commenced at Morningside and Bryanston
• Moorfield JV – construction commenced at Heathrow and Bath

Highlighting the resilience of its operating model, JSE REIT Stor-Age, South Africa’s leading and largest self storage property fund, continued its track record of consistent earnings growth and
once again delivered an excellent operating and financial performance for the year ended 31 March 2022. The Group also continued to successfully execute its growth strategy, acquiring 11 trading properties across South Africa and the UK, as well as securing four new opportunities for future development, taking the total number of properties in the development pipeline to 14.

Stor-Age CEO Gavin Lucas said, “We’re proud to report that Stor-Age delivered another superb performance. Our prior financial year highlighted the resilience of our business model, while the current year was characterised by exceptional growth in our portfolio and record levels of demand. With a founderled executive management team, one that has been developing and operating self storage assets for more than 15 years, as well as being one of only 11 publicly traded self storage REITs globally, we continue to benefit from our deep sector specialisation, highly sophisticated operating platform and industry leading digital capability in South Africa and the UK.”

Off the back of strong demand, Stor-Age delivered growth in excess of 12% and 28% in same-store net property operating income in South Africa and the UK respectively. Total occupancy increased by 24 100m², and same-store occupancy closed above 90% in both markets. Driven by organic growth and the impact of acquisitions and new developments, Group rental income increased by 14% to R815 million, while on a same-store basis, SA and UK rental income increased by 10% and 21.2% respectively.

Comments Lucas, “The pandemic accelerated long-term trends and set in motion changes in remote work, e-commerce and automation, giving rise to additional new needs-based demand drivers for self storage. It’s evident that some emerging trends, such as hybrid working, have become more permanent in nature and will continue to drive demand and in turn enhance the pricing power within the sector. Self storage is also likely to continue to benefit from its market positioning as an alternative to traditional industrial and logistics space, as well as from increased use by SMMEs, effectively creating a long-term structural tailwind for the sector.”

The continued strong operational performance underpinned a healthy gain in property valuations and, together with acquisitions completed during the year, the value of Stor-Age’s 85 properties increased by approximately R1.7 billion to R9.5 billion at 31 March 2022.

Stor-Age continues to deploy capital strategically, adding quality and scale to its high-quality portfolio of self storage assets in both markets. During the year, Stor-Age concluded the acquisition of Silver Park Self Storage and Green Cube Self Storage, in Cape Town’s northern and southern suburbs respectively. Adding 13 100m2 GLA to the portfolio, the locations of the properties were complementary to the existing portfolio, and both present attractive upside through Stor-Age’s operating platform and asset management capability.

In the UK, the three acquisitions that Stor-Age completed during the year represented nine properties in total and added approximately 43 000m² GLA to the portfolio at a combined purchase price of over £100 million. The most recent of the acquisitions, Storagebase, was secured in March 2022 at a purchase consideration of £59 million as part of a joint venture (‘JV’) with Moorfield Group (‘Moorfield’). The highquality portfolio consisted of predominantly modern, bespoke, purpose-built properties and is located in the south of England and the West Midlands.

The acquisition formed part of an existing JV with Moorfield to assemble a portfolio of high-quality self storage properties in prime locations throughout England. Stor-Age has a 24.9% equity interest in the JV and earns management fees for acquiring, developing and managing properties therein. The Storagebase acquisition followed shortly after the acquisition of a regionally dominant four-property portfolio in Yorkshire from McCarthy’s Storage World (‘McCarthy’s’). The acquisition was concluded in January 2022 at a purchase price of £37.5 million.

Comments Lucas, “Stor-Age made a strategic entry into the UK in November 2017. Subsequently, we’ve seen Storage King deliver highly attractive operating results year after year, as well as grow significantly, from 13 properties to 30, with a further four properties secured in the development pipeline. The operational strength and performance over multiple years, along with our success in identifying, negotiating, and closing acquisitions in a highly competitive developed market economy, demonstrates the strength, competitiveness, and sophistication of our UK platform. With total Group asset exposure now more than 50% weighted to UK assets and continuing to grow, Stor-Age is superbly positioned to continue executing its growth strategy in the UK.”

Three new developments were also completed during the year in South Africa, in Tyger Valley, Cresta and Sunningdale, adding approximately 21 000m2 GLA to the portfolio. A further two properties are under construction, in Morningside and Bryanston. Both of these properties are being developed as part of a JV with Nedbank Corporate and Investment Bank.

In the UK, the Moorfield JV is progressing well, with construction underway at a new purpose-built flagship property in Heathrow, as well as at an existing property in Bath which is being converted into self storage. With an additional four development sites secured during the year, Stor-Age benefits from having a significant pipeline of 14 prime properties for future development across both markets (SA 10; UK 4).

Stor-Age continues to benefit from a well-managed and conservative capital structure that makes use of moderate levels of debt and a multi-year forward interest rate hedging policy. In support of its balance sheet strategy, in January 2022 it proactively bolstered its liquidity position by securing R575 million of new equity in a significantly oversubscribed accelerated bookbuild.

The conservative management of the balance sheet allows for the consistent execution of the growth strategy and also ensures that Stor-Age has the flexibility to take advantage of market opportunities as they present themselves. At year end, Stor-Age had a loan-to-value ratio of 27.9%, with 84.3% of its net debt hedged for a remaining average 3.5 years.

Concludes Lucas, “As we look to the year ahead, we remain conscious of the risks and unpredictable economic outcomes that sit outside of our control. Developed and emerging economies alike are experiencing accelerating inflation and continuing supply chain disruptions and production shortages, with these challenges being magnified by recent geopolitical events. Regardless of how these matters play themselves out, Stor-Age and the self storage business model have a track record of resilience in constrained economic environments, with a diverse and deep set of demand drivers present throughout the different economic cycles. Accordingly, we are well positioned to deal with these uncertainties, continue with the execution of our operating and growth strategies, as well as to take advantage of any market opportunities that may present themselves.”

The board anticipates low to mid single-digit dividend per share growth (assuming a 100% pay-out ratio) for the financial year ahead.

The share closed on Friday at R14.17.