Hammerson CEO David Atkins with JSE support staff at his company’s listing on the JSE in Sandton. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Hammerson CEO David Atkins with JSE support staff at his company’s listing on the JSE in Sandton. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

London — Hammerson CEO David Atkins will step down, the UK and Europe shopping centre owner and operator said on Wednesday, as it faces a crisis spurred by coronavirus-induced shop closures and a collapse in rent.

The news comes just weeks after the collapse of its £400m deal to sell seven retail parks to private equity firm Orion.

Atkins, who has led the company for over a decade, will step down by 2021 at the latest, Hammerson said.

“The current environment, exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19, is undoubtedly the most challenging we have faced as a business,” Atkins said in a statement. “I feel now is the right time to search for a new CEO, a person who cannot only lead the business as we emerge from this period, but also into its next chapter.”

Hammerson has been trimming down debt and fixing its balance sheet by divesting some of its portfolio over the past year.

Like its peers Intu Properties and British Land, it has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut thousands of tenants' stores and forced some into administration. Many retailers have said they are not paying their rent.

British Land said on Wednesday that the value of its property empire dropped 10.1%, or £1.2bn to £11.15bn in the year to end-March.

Reuters  

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