May 9, 2010
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Eurocommercial increases rents as retailers sell more

May 9, 2010

AMSTERDAM, May 7 (Reuters) - Dutch retail property group Eurocommercial Properties (SIPFc.AS) increased rents and operating profit in the January-to-March period as its clients sold more despite an overall decline in eurozone retail figures.

Photo: www.eurocommercialproperties.com

Eurocommercial's clients includes retailers such as Sweden's fashion chain H&M (HMb.ST) and Apple (AAPL.O) stores and overall its clients reported a 3.4 percent rise in sales in the three-month period, which is the company's fiscal third quarter.

Euro zone retail sales declined in January and February by 0.2 percent and 0.6 percent respectively month-on-month as domestic consumer demand remains weak.

French rival Klepierre (LOIM.PA) last month reported a 2.1 percent fall in retail property rents for the January-March period on a constant basis but it expected a slight growth in rents for 2010 due to rising retailer revenues.

Eurocommercial, the fourth-largest Dutch listed property fund based on market value, manages 2.3 billion euros ($3.1 billion) in shopping centres in Italy, France, and non-euro zone Sweden.

Swedish retail sales rose month-on-month 0.7 percent in March after a 1.1 percent fall in February.

"Rents are stable with sales turnover generally recovering from the low levels of 2009," ECP said.

Eurocommercial, whose results will be followed next week by Dutch rivals Corio (COR.AS) and Wereldhave (WEHA.AS), said in a statement rental growth on a comparable basis was 2.3 percent on average in the 12-month period until March.

Its operating profit -- rental income minus costs -- was 18.9 million euros for the January-to-March period, compared with 17 million euros for the same period a year ago. (Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger; Editing by Mike Nesbit) ($1=.7453 euros)

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