Westfield Trust reports 9.7% increase in profit to $234.8 million
01 August 2002
Westfield Trust today announced a net profit after tax of $234.8million for the half year ended 30 June 2002, an increase of 9.7%on the same period last year.
This represents a distribution of 11.73 cents per unit, up 2.7%over the previous corresponding period with 35% of the distributiontax advantaged.
The growth in distribution reflects existing centre incomegrowth, contributions from recently completed developments as wellas the accretive effect of a number of capital transactionscompleted last year.
The assets of Westfield Trust totalled $9.2 billion at 30 June2002, up 8.5% from 30 June 2001. Unitholders’ equity attributableto members of Westfield Trust is $6.0 billion up 11.0% from 30 June2001. The Trust’s net asset backing increased from $2.87 to $2.99per unit over the 12-month period.
Westfield Managing Director Steven Lowy said the directors werepleased with the results, which reflected the strength of theTrust’s shopping centre portfolio, the intensive management focusof the Westfield team and the improving retail environment.
Retail sales in Westfield Trust’s 29 Australian centres totalled$8.8 billion for the 12 months to 30 June 2002, an increase of7.2%. On a comparable basis this represents an increase of 2.4%
During the six-month period, retail sales in our Australianportfolio showed clear signs of improvement. Retail sales on acomparable basis increased 4.3% for the half year and 5.2% for thequarter to 30 June 2002.
Retail sales in Westfield Trust’s 11 New Zealand centres totalled$NZ1.4billion for the 12 months to 30 June 2002, representing anincrease of 2.3%. On a comparable basis sales increased by 0.2% forthe 12 months, 1.9% for the half year and 3.2% for the quarter to30 June 2002, also showing an improving trend for the period.
Consistent with the improving retail environment demand for retailspace has strengthened with occupancy rates in our shopping centresin Australia and New Zealand remaining in excess of 99% during theperiod.
In April, work began on the $680 million redevelopment of theBondi Junction centre in Sydney. The project will consolidate threeexisting retail sites into one world-class shopping andentertainment centre to serve the high-income trade area inSydney’s eastern suburbs.
On completion, the centre will comprise around 100,000 squaremetres of retail space. This is the largest project undertaken bythe Trust and, given the strength of market demographics, oncompletion Westfield Bondi Junction is expected to rank among thetop centres in the country.
In June, work commenced on the $30 million Homemaker Retail Campusat Fountain Gate in Melbourne. When completed, the campus willtotal 20,000 square metres and house major retailers such as ColesMyer’s Megamart, a Kmart Garden Super Centre and Warehouse,together with the existing retailers of Freedom Furniture and BabyTarget.
In New Zealand, construction is well under way on the $NZ55 millionredevelopment of the St Lukes shopping centre in Auckland. St Lukesis already New Zealand’s premier shopping location and the flagshipof the Westfield Trust NZ portfolio. The project is expected to befinished in the first half of 2003.
Construction is set to commence on the first stage of a newshopping centre at North Lakes, in north Brisbane. The first stage,with project costs of approximately $67 million, will comprise25,000 square metres of retail space and include a Colessupermarket, Target discount department store along with 60specialty retailers. Westfield North Lakes will also feature anoutdoor restaurant and lifestyle precinct catering for thisfast-growing northern region of Brisbane.
This is the first of a multi-stage project, which will seeWestfield North Lakes develop, over time, into a major shoppingdestination. The 25-hectare site has zoning approval for up to80,000 square metres of retail/bulky goods floor space. This givesit the capacity to fulfill the future needs of the localpopulation, which is growing at 2.4%, or double the nationalaverage.
Planning is also under way for new investment projects at Doncasterin Melbourne, Liverpool in Sydney, Innaloo in Perth and Queensgatein Wellington, New Zealand. The total cost of these new investmentprojects is estimated to be in excess of $500 million.
Directors believe the Trust is well placed for the future and thatthe recent positive signs of solid retail sales growth, andcontinuing demand by retailers for space, will enable it, barringunforeseen circumstances, to achieve the distribution growth perunit for the full year of 2.75% as foreshadowed earlier thisyear.