NewRiver CEO Allan Lockhart has said the business has proved to be “resilient” during a period of “unprecedented disruption”.

Announcing its half year results, he said the business had seen a “significant increase in leasing activity, with over half a million square feet of transactions completed, which has led to occupancy in our retail portfolio increasing to more than 96% during the period. This reflects both our affordable rents and focus on essential and convenience retail.

“We negotiated almost 300 revised payment agreements with our retail tenants, leading to overall rent collected or moved to alternative payments at 90% of that due. Once pubs were allowed to reopen, we saw a fast rate of revenue recovery over the summer months and we are confident that once lockdown restrictions are ended our pub business will return to growth.”

He also said cash holdings were up by “almost £60m during the period and so we ended the first half in an even stronger financial position with £235m of available cash and liquidity. Our loan-to-value (LTV), increased by 1% to 48%, helped by our strong retail and pub revenue recovery, and the excellent progress we made with disposals which were ahead of our target with £50m completed.

“While our markets continue to be disrupted by COVID-19 in the short term, given the resilient first-half operational performance and the confidence we have in our portfolio it is the Board’s intention to reinstate a covered dividend at the full year.”

Lockhart also added a tribute to his father David, former CEO of the company, who passed away in September, describing him as the “original driving force behind the success of NewRiver. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and many friends in the industry.”