Shaftesbury has reported seeing an encouraging increase in demand for space and lettings, as well as a return of footfall and spend across its locations as the West End begins to bounce back.

In its latest trading update for the six months to 31 March 2021, the real estate investment trust, which owns a 16-acre portfolio in London’s West End, said it believed a revival in the area’s broad-based economy was now underway, since venues were allowed to reopen on 12 April.

Almost all of its hospitality, leisure and retail businesses have now reopened, and it said that, to date, its hospitality business had generally seen a strong recovery in trade and bookings.

Brian Bicknell, chief executive, said: “Forecasts point to a sharp rebound in the UK economy but there remains the risk that the recovery could encounter delays and setbacks in the period ahead.

“We expect occupier demand to improve further as businesses seek to locate in our lively, holistically-curated villages.”

Shaftesbury said the gradual return of the local working population was expected to gather pace from 21 June, however it does not expect material recovery in international travel until later next year.

Added Bicknell: “As the global pandemic recedes, we are confident that the unique appeal and features of London and the West End will continue to attract businesses and visitors on a scale matched by few other cities, underpinning the long-term resilience and prospects of our portfolio.”