Advertisement

'We're in the early stages of a retail property crash'

The prospect of a disorderly Brexit is the reason being offered up for the collapse of a £2.9 billion deal for the shopping centre group Intu.

The Bank of England said on Wednesday that commercial property values could fall by as much as 48% if the UK crashes out of the EU in March.

You can understand why the consortium of Peel Group, Brookfield and the Saudi group Olayan may have been spooked.

But the news that the takeover bid was off sent Intu's share price into a tailspin, which suggests Brexit alone is not to blame.

Hemant Kotak of Green Street Advisors believes the consortium realised they were overpaying.

"Everyone likes to blame Brexit but Intu's issues run deeper. The growth in e-commerce means that shoppers are spending less in shops. With sales down, rents are no longer affordable for retailers," Kotak told ITV News.

"Nobody wants to catch a falling knife."

Fewer and fewer people are going to high-street shops. Credit: ITV News

Intu still believes its 17 shopping centres are worth the best part of £9 billion on paper. The stock market reaction suggests Intu should think again.

The company had planned to offload some of its "non-core assets", but accepts that isn't possible in the current climate.

The number of people visiting high streets has fallen every year for the last ten years, the slump in footfall in shopping centres has been even greater.

The way we shop is changing and some believe the upheaval is only just beginning.

The Bank of England made a dire prediction about commercial property values. Credit: ITV News

Matthew Oakeshott manages £1 billion of property assets on behalf of pension funds and charities.

A decade ago his portfolios included 100 shops. Today OLIM Property owns just five.

"We're in the early stages of a retail property crash," he said.

"I'm afraid shops and shopping centres are burning platforms in a perfect storm.

"There's the pressure of the internet and the burden of business rates which is crippling."

We've seen plenty of retailers in distress and now landlords are beginning to feel the pain.