Shoppers fill Oxford Stree

The West End’s shopping and leisure scene saw strong economic performance over Christmas and the new year, local landlord Shaftesbury reported on Friday.

Visitor numbers and spending were “resilient . . . despite exceptionally adverse weather conditions”, the FTSE 250-listed company said in a trading statement.

Just 1.7 per cent of its space was empty and available for let by the end of 2013, Shaftesbury reported, down from 2.3 per cent in the previous quarter. A further 4.9 per cent was empty for refurbishment, down from 5.3 per cent.

“The quality and variety of the businesses we are attracting are enhancing the shopping, restaurant and leisure choices across our central West End villages,” the company said.

The West End has been London’s best-performing property market in recent years, as the decline in the value of the pound helped boost tourism to Britain. The strength of activity has pushed up rents, assisted by events such as the 2012 Olympic Games and the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

During the quarter Shaftesbury bought five properties at a cost of £10.5m, with terms agreed for another three for £9.3m.

It recently refinanced a £125m loan facility with Lloyds Bank, extending it for a further three years. It is in talks to refinance a further £100m of bank debt and terminate a third of its £360m-worth of interest rate swaps, which currently have a £84.6m fair-value deficit.

Total debt was £612m, up £6.6m quarter on quarter; £84.2m of borrowing facilities were undrawn, Shaftesbury reported.

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