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Third quarter numbers from its retail portfolio were nearly back to last year levels, and the average spend continues to trend higher for Aldar. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Abu Dhabi’s Aldar Properties will take a “case by case” approach on any additional rent relief measures for its retail tenants in 2021, according to a top official. The master-developer was one of the first to come out with relief measures after the pandemic burst hit businesses and individuals.

“The combined Dh190 million relief programme (which includes fee discounts to students at Aldar-owned schools) is nearly fully deployed,” said Greg Fewer, Chief Financial and Sustainability Officer at the master-developer. “At this stage, we are seeing improved footfall across our malls and some positive trading happening.

“Any further relief for mall tenants has to be on a real need basis. But if we see some good brands really losing money and which add a good mix to our retail tenants, then we will look into that. We had taken a partnership approach with our tenants from very early in the crisis.”

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Restrictions add their own impetus

Aldar’s retail portfolio, which features the flagship Yas Mall, has also benefited from the still reduced travel between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The safety protocols in place to check the COVID-19 spread means Abu Dhabi residents are more likely to spend at retail and leisure destinations in the emirate.

This is translating into an “uptick in spend per basket as a result”, Fewer said.

All of which is showing up on the Aldar gross numbers from its retail assets, with third quarter numbers nearly on par from what they were a year ago.

If we see some good brands really losing money and which add a good mix to our retail tenants, then we will look into that

- Greg Fewer of Aldar Properties

Gains across the board

Late on Wednesday (November 11), Aldar issued its year-to-end September numbers, which were boosted by a strong third quarter turn. Both development and asset management operations turned in solid performances.

“In today’s operating environment, it is important to have a highly diversified model,” said fewer. “Our portfolio has held firm this year, and even education, the property and facilities management operations continue to perform.”

That’s enough to make Aldar the “most valuable listed company in the UAE and third largest in the region”.

There was a 30 per cent year-on-year increase in revenues to Dh2.1 billion, while net profit gained 8 per cent to Dh416 million. The lift was provided by a "record" quarterly sales between July to September.

Dh1.2billion

Aldar's offplan sales during the third quarter

More wins from government

From early next year, Aldar will see benefits accruing from the recent contract to handle Dh30 billion in Abu Dhabi Government owned projects, including the various national housing schemes and the Riyadh City project. Its current third-party portfolio is valued at Dh5 billion.

How Aldar used its Dh190m COVID-19 relief package
• Retail partners tapped into Dh90 million worth of relief measures;
• Dh60 million was allocated to support residential buyers and tenants, including by way of rent-to-own schemes and allowing monthly payment plans. Aldar also introduced a more flexible rent payment for its residential tenants, by allowing them to pay using a credit card. Over 330 residential buyers have taken advantage of the subsidized mortgage, supporting unit purchases in excess of Dh1 billion.
• Aldar Academies was allotted Dh50 million, including a 20 per cent discount applied to nearly 7,500 students at its schools, around Dh10 million in technology-related investments, and a Dh6 million "hardship fund".