INTERNATIONAL retailers and new leases will underpin real estate investment trusts as they head into the Christmas/New Year business lull.
In quarterly reports from GPT, Commonwealth Property Office Fund (CPA), CFS Retail Trust and Mirvac, among others, the theme has been of steady leasing deals to keep income coming in.
The focus on high-end international fashion labels has led to a rise in development costs for the CFS Retail Trust's Emporium project in Melbourne. But the forecast higher sales revenue generated when the property opens, by December 2013, will offset the initial higher charges, according to the trust's September quarter update.
The fund manager for CFS Retail, Michael Gorman, said the project costs were expected to increase marginally, from $560 million (CFS's share) to $575 million, and the target yield was forecast to be more than 5 per cent rather than above 6 per cent.
Mr Gorman said the trust's comparable shopping centre portfolio increased sales by 3.5 per cent over the period, while specialty store sales rose by 4.4 per cent.
"The joint owners [CFS and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC)] of the Emporium have decided to take advantage of the strong demand for luxury and international flagship stores and to increase the exposure to these retailers considerably," he said.
Brokers at Goldman Sachs said they have maintained their view that "risks continue to prevail around the large Emporium project, and until the outcomes can be proven we see a likelihood that investors will increasingly price some discount until the development completes in a little over 12 months".
For office leasing, sentiment is getting stronger along the eastern seaboard.
The fund manager for CPA, Charles Moore, said the new lease by law firm Ashurst for 44 per cent of the proposed 5 Martin Place project in Sydney would help to offset a drop in valuations at 10 Shelley Street, at King Street Wharf in Sydney, due to the departure of KPMG in 2016 to Barangaroo.