Our five year strategy

Our strategy addresses the challenges and will position us to take advantage of the opportunities. With a largely new Board and a restructured executive team, we are already making progress

From our annual results you can see that there are currently many changes and challenges in our market, but we have centres where both substantial visitor numbers and their satisfaction ratings are increasing. We understand the issues we face, including how the market is changing, but recognise that we have some fundamental strengths that mean we are best-placed to take advantage of the flight to prime.

Challenges

The retail property market is impacted by the structural changes ongoing in the retail sector, with some weaker retailers struggling to remain relevant in a multichannel environment. This has led to a higher level of administrations and CVAs which has been exacerbated by the current political uncertainty in the UK and weak consumer confidence. The result of all this on the retail property sector is pessimistic investor sentiment and decreasing property values. On top of this, intu itself faces challenges. We are seen as having too much debt, with a tail of underperforming assets. Our relationships with tenants are seen as old-fashioned and our management structure has stopped us being as agile as we would like to be. We believe our new strategy addresses these challenges and will position us to take advantage of opportunities that arise.

Strategic objective: Fix the balance sheet

To reduce net external debt and create liquidity to deal with any potential covenant breaches and the upcoming refinancing activity, with the first material debt maturities in early 2021

Key actions:

  • mitigating any potential covenant breaches, including seeking waivers
  • considering alternative capital structures, including reviewing the feasibility of a future equity raise
  • pausing the dividend for the time being
  • disposing and part disposing of assets in the UK and Spain
  • reducing the capital expenditure pipeline

What have we done:

  • no 2018 final or 2019 dividends proposed or paid
  • disposals of nearly £600m of assets:
  • part disposed of intu Derby for £186m
  • disposed of intu Puerto Venecia for £201m (€238m) and intu Asturias for £123m (€145m)
  • disposed of £82m of sundry assets
  • reduced capital expenditure pipeline by £60m

Strategic objective: Simplify, enhance and drive efficiency

To deliver our strategy and reshape intu, we need to ensure we have the correct leadership team in place, with the right skill sets and teams to deliver this vision

Key actions:

  • updating management structure for our forward-looking strategy
  • delivering a thriving culture of happy and high-performing colleagues
  • considering new approach to incentive plans
  • focusing on wellbeing and ESG

What have we done:

  • refreshed the Board since 2018 with four of the seven members new to intu and one new in role
  • restructured Executive Committee
  • created customer and centre performance directorates
  • delivered £5m of annualised cost savings, of which £2m will benefit our customers through lower service charges
  • signed ‘Time to Change’ pledge

Strategic objective: Sharpen customer focus

To improve our relationships with those who pay us to take space, working closer with them and taking a partnership approach to maximise returns for both parties

Key actions:

  • identifying, nurturing and supporting leading brands
  • investing in data and sharing the insight
  • developing new product and service propositions for our customers to reduce their costs, remove hassle and improve sales
  • leading the way in modernising the lease structure, to include store-generated online sales

What have we done:

  • CEO meetings with top-30 customers
  • appointed customer performance director
  • created customer performance team with insight, digital and sector specialist teams
  • enhanced customer understanding with store-level affordability database
  • multichannel-focused approach to align with retailers

Strategic objective: Transform our centres

To deliver what future visitors and customers want with a project pipeline for new uses

Key actions:

  • focusing on placemaking, so our centres are places where people love to be
  • evolving the visitor experience further to increase footfall and dwell time
  • delivering seamless customer offering to allow new brands easy access to centres
  • intensifying our estate, using a capital light model, introducing new uses

What have we done:

  • appointed centre performance director
  • opened intu Lakeside leisure extension
  • increased experiential offering: Big Bug Tour and Upside Down House roll-out
  • curated new retail concepts such as Birdhouse Café and Fashion House
  • identified around 6,000 potential residential units  across eight sites, seven potential hotel sites for around 800 rooms and four flexible working sites

The store is not dying, it is evolving

With all the recent media articles around the death of the store, you could believe that no one will go shopping again. However, the right stores in the right locations still play a vital role for retailers. Two statistics tell this story well. First, 85 per cent of all retail transactions still touch a physical store. Second, recent research by CACI has shown that the presence of a physical store can double a retailer’s online sales in that local catchment.

If we look ahead to 2026 and research carried out by CACI and Revo, their research suggests that 78 per cent of transactions will still touch a store in 2026, even with the overall percentage of online sales increasing from 20 per cent to 30 per cent. Although direct in-store spend on comparison goods will grow at a lower rate than other channels (2017 to 2026: +2.5 per cent compound annual growth rate), the growth in click and collect and online sales researched in-store gives an overall compound annual growth rate in sales that touch a store of 3.0 per cent.

This highlights the importance of the store, added to which, if the overall number of stores in the UK declines over this period then the productivity of the remaining stores will improve, and this should be weighted towards the best retail and leisure destinations. As the role of the store changes, then the relationship with our customers will have to change too. As data becomes increasingly important, it is key that we and our customers can join forces and share data to ensure we both benefit and potentially share the risk and reward.

Centres are transforming

The transformation of centres is nothing new, it is a continuous process but the speed of change is increasing. Our view is that the best locations will deliver theatre and world class service, maximising the footfall and dwell time for our customers. These will be the locations that our customers focus on as they rationalise their store portfolios. In addition to the retail and leisure mix, we also see further intensification of sites introducing residential, office and hotels which will increase our centres’ importance at the heart of their communities.

intu’s fundamental strengths

There are many challenges, but there are also many strengths we have to take advantage of. We own nine of the UK’s top-20 centres (source: GlobalData) and on average over one million people a day visit one of our centres where our visitor satisfaction continues to grow. Our centres continue to have high occupancy at 95 per cent. We are seen as innovators – we introduced the first nationwide online shopping mall in the UK, intu.co.uk. All this means that we are a first stop and major provider of space in the UK for many global brands, such as Apple, Inditex, Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie & Fitch.