London-based landlord Shaftesbury has said trade at its 587 sites over Christmas was “buoyant”  and said restaurants, cafes and bars are becoming a destination in their own right for the capital.

As of 31 December the company had a vacancy rate of 1.1% in its restaurants, cafes and leisure division and 6% overall.

On future acquisitions it said: “Owners in our locations remain reluctant to sell assets and, therefore, availability remains restricted.  However, we have secured six properties, at a total cost of £20.4 million, in Soho, Charlotte Street and Carnaby. This included one shop, two restaurants, two cafés, a vacant pub, 3,100 sq. ft. of office space and eight apartments, four of which were unoccupied. These acquisitions complement our existing, extensive ownerships and offer the potential for improvement to deliver future rental and capital value growth.”

It said: “London’s West End continues to draw unrivalled numbers of visitors, attracted by its world-class heritage, cultural attractions and exceptional choice of shopping. The variety and quality of the West End’s restaurants, cafés and bars are becoming increasingly important. They are an integral part of many visits to the West End and are becoming destinations in their own right.”

Shaftesbury said it was currently advancing plans for its two major acquisitions made in 2014: Charing Cross Road/Newport Court/Newport Place in Chinatown, and 57-59 Broadwick Street in Carnaby. It said it was in detailed discussions with Westminster City Council in advance of submitting formal planning applications for both schemes and expected to be on site in 2016. We currently estimate a total cost of c£22m across both schemes.

The company said construction of its mixed-use scheme fronting the south side of Foubert’s Place and Kingly Street in Carnaby (ERV: £2.1 million) will be largely completed by the end of March 2015. The 6,500 sq. ft. restaurant is already under offer and the 7,500 sq. ft. of retail and 10,500 sq. ft. of office space are now being marketed. The scheme’s twelve apartments will be marketed to rent once completed.

It said other schemes in progress at 31 December 2014 (total ERV £3.9 million) comprised:

·     Nine small shops (ERV: £0.4 million) and one large shop (ERV: £0.5 million);

·     Five restaurants, cafés and bars (ERV: £0.6 million) of which two (ERV: £0.2 million) were under offer;

·     Refurbishment of 21,000 sq. ft. of offices (ERV: £1.3 million);

·     42 apartments under construction or being upgraded (ERV: £1.1 million).