Billion Pound Loss for Westfield

Plus news of local store closures and buy-outs

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Westfield has announced a 2.2 billion Australian dollar (£1 billion) net loss for the year ending December 31 2008, due to the decreasing value of its shopping malls worldwide and the fall in retail sales.

Westfield's joint managing directors, Steven and Peter Lowy, said the weaker markets were the US, Britain and New Zealand, which had more exposure to subprime mortgages than Australia.

However, the Sydney-based firm, which is the world's largest shopping centre owner, also posted a 10.4 percent rise in operating earnings to 1.9 billion Australian dollars, mainly driven by a strong performance in Australia.

"The group continued to deliver strong underlying earnings in a challenging global environment," Westfield said in a statement. Steven Lowy said Westfield London in Shepherd's Bush continued to perform well despite the weak British economy.

Westfield London is the company's biggest shopping mall and, according to The Australian newspaper, it is valued at just over £1.1bn.

Meanwhile, some of the businesses inside the shopping centre are struggling. On Westfield's Southern Terrace, the Esca eatery, which was part of a small chain, has closed down. The Times reports that the restaurant and food hall was forced to close because of poor sales and that the company is on the verge of appointing liquidators. Esca is the second Westfield eatery to close since the shopping centre opened last October: Ito, also on the Southern Terrace, closed down just six weeks after opening.

However, one of the shopping centre's stores which was in administration has been saved.
Adams Childrenswear was bought out earlier this month by JS Childrenswear Limited, saving 1,900 jobs nationwide, including those at the Westfield branch.

“The new company will continue to trade under the Adams name, meaning this brand will not be one of the retail names disappearing from the high street in the current recession. The sale was one of a number of expressions of interest and represented the best deal for all stakeholders,” said Rob Hunt, joint administrator and partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

The maternity chain Blooming Marvellous, which went into administration last month has been sold to Scottish entrepreneur Elaine McPherson for an undisclosed sum. However, the Westfield branch has closed down as has the boys' fashion retailer, You'th.

Elsewhere in Shepherd's Bush the recession is also making itself felt: the Lebanese restaurant Verdun on Uxbridge Road has closed down and Blockbusters video store, also on Uxbridge Road is closing on Sunday 8 March.

28 February 2009