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On the rental side, we received 81% of the total rent invoiced and due for the aggregate of the quarter commencing 25 March 2020 and the month commencing 1 April 2020, broken down as follows:

  • 79% of all rent invoiced was for the quarter commencing 25 March and ending 24 June 2020, of which 85% was paid by 30 April 2020
  • 21% of all rent invoiced was for the month of April 2020, of which 66% was paid by 30 April 2020

For the MLI portfolio an aggregate of 75% of total rent invoiced had been paid by 30 April 2020. We continue to be in close contact with our customers and expect to recover further rent in due course.

In the first quarter, we have completed 28 new lettings and 25 lease renewals totalling 186,513 sq ft and generating £1.03 million per annum of contractual rental income. The average rent on the MLI portfolio at 31st March 2020 was £5.27/ sq ft – an increase to the previous quarter’s rent at £5.19/sq ft. Excluding Coningsby Business Park in Peterborough, our vacancy rate at 31st March stood at 7.3%, up from 5.8% at the end of the previous quarter. Of the total increase in vacancy of 73,500 sq ft, 25% related to one large unit at Old Mill Industrial Estate, Preston, whilst 29% was due to receiving back three units totalling 14,000 sq ft and acquiring a vacant long leasehold interest of 7,500 sq ft at Capital Business Park, Cardiff.

 

The most significant transactions completed were a letting of 71,000 sq ft at Greenfield Business Park in Holywell on a 10-year term with a break in year five and three months' rent-free incentive and a letting of 10,000 sq ft at Lea Green Business Park in St Helens for a six-year term without a break with three months' rent-free incentive.

We completed the acquisition of two multi-let industrial estates, Brookfoot Business Park in Brighouse and Clarendon Court in Warrington, for a total of £9.7 million. The estates comprise 49 tenants across 142,000 sq ft with an average occupancy rate of 95% and provide an additional £803,000 of rental income per annum, which is equivalent to £5.94/sq ft.

We also acquired a long leasehold interest of 7,500 sq ft at Capital Business Park, Cardiff, which had been sold off by the previous owner. The modern unit, which is vacant and in need of refurbishment, was acquired for £364,000 at auction from the government following a proceeds of crime confiscation, and the price reflected a £50/sq ft capital value, reflecting a 37% discount to the valuation on the rest of the estate.

Our CEO, Paul Arenson, has commented the following:

"We are very pleased with the progress we have made on rent collections. Our ability to be in direct communication with our customers has assisted significantly in this process and we expect to make further progress on these collection rates over time.

"During the first quarter the occupational market performed strongly as a result of an uptick in business confidence following the General Election in December 2019. We completed a high number of lettings and renewals substantially ahead of previous passing rents, albeit overall occupancy declined due to a few large units being returned to us at lease expiry, as anticipated".