UPDATE 1-Hammerson net asset value per share rises 1.7 pct
LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) - Shopping centre landlord Hammerson said its net asset value per share increased 1.7 percent to 551 pence as its well-positioned malls continued to trade well in a weak British economy.
Hammerson, whose centres include the Bullring in Birmingham, Brent Cross in London and Italie 2 in Paris, said on Monday that net rental income increased 2.5 percent and occupancy stood at 97.4 percent versus 96.6 percent in March.
Chief Executive David Atkins singled out the UK, where most of its malls are located, over France as showing tentative signs of recovery despite the slowdown in consumer spending across Europe since the financial crisis.
"While household budgets in the UK and France remain under pressure, there are encouraging signs of improvement in macro-economic conditions in the UK," he said.
Large malls that dominate their surrounding area, which are typically owned by the UK's biggest developers and property funds, have fared better than smaller centres and high streets in outlying parts of Britain during the financial crisis.
Many shoppers have switched to the internet in recent years, which has piled further pressure on retailers and forced mall owners to turn their centres into more general leisure destinations with growing emphasis on cinemas and restaurants.
Hammerson's interim dividend was up 7.8 percent to 8.3 pence per share.
It sold the bulk of its London office properties in June to Canadian-American developer Brookfield to focus on retail.
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