April 29, 2020 / 9:25 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Klepierre starts to reopen malls as lockdowns ease across Europe

(Updates with details on reopenings)

PARIS, April 29 (Reuters) - French property group Klepierre said on Wednesday it had started to reopen some shopping malls in Germany and was preparing to do so elsewhere as lockdowns ease across Europe.

The company, which owns more than 100 malls in Europe, withdrew its 2020 net cashflow guidance, of between 2.85 and 2.90 euros, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing down its shares. They were down 1.57% by 0905 GMT.

Klepierre said its first-quarter net rental income from shopping centres was broadly stable on a like-for-like basis, which strips out acquisitions, disposals and currency swings.

It was not hit by store closures until March when many countries in which it operates, from Portugal to Poland, ordered most retailers to shut, except for grocery providers and pharmacies.

But Klepierre added that income from sales-based rents, leasing and parking fell as a result of lockdowns.

The group said it had resumed operations at four of its German malls, while store reopenings were also accelerating in Norway, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic where confinement measures are being eased.

It said it was bringing in social-distancing measures for stores and at the entrance to malls, where shoppers will have to stand in line, and would organise body temperature checks in some cases.

Klepierre added it would bring in checks to ensure customers are wearing masks in countries where governments recommended their use, and would improve its cleaning regime and air renewal systems.

In France, most stores are due to reopen from May 11 though the government said this week that malls could remain shut for longer, adding that local prefects would decide on a case-by-case basis.

Across Europe, retailers from sneaker maker Adidas to Italian fashion group OVS have asked for rent relief as they grapple with the shutdowns.

Klepierre, which is reining in construction plans and spending, said it was deferring payment of April rents to the second half of the year to support retailers. It also granted a three-month rent holiday to small businesses in France. (Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva and Sarah White; editing by Jason Neely and Pravin Char)

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