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.