Charter Hall Retail REIT's (REIT) decision to focus on its Australia portfolio is paying off after it completed 49 new leases and renewals and delivering specialty rent growth of 2.8 per cent during the first quarter of the 2014 financial year.

Occupancy was also maintained at 98.2 per cent with the anchor tenant weighted average lease expiry (WALE) increasing from 10.7 years at 30 June 2013 to 10.9 years at 30 September 2013.

At the same time, anchor tenant Moving Annual Total growth for stores in turnover was 3.5 per cent at 30 September 2013, with 51% of anchor tenants paying turnover rent, while specialty shop sales grew at 1.5 per cent.

“The Australian portfolio performance is in line with our expectations and reflects the continued strength of the non-discretionary retail market generally, and the REIT’s portfolio in particular,” Scott Dundas, REIT fund manager, said.

Since June 2013, the REIT completed the sale of its Polish portfolio for approximately $60 million and also sold a small asset in the United States located in Atlanta Georgia for US $3.6 million. These sales have attributed to the payment for its acquisition of Southgate Plaza Shopping Centre in South Australia.

The REIT also completed the acquisition of the Secret Harbour shopping centre and adjoining development land, located 50 kilometres south of Perth in Western Australia, for $33.2 million. Planning is underway to expand the existing centre from 5,600 square metres to 15,700 square metres, incorporating at least one additional anchor tenant.

The acquisition of Southgate Plaza and Secret Harbour shopping centre take the REIT’s total Australian supermarket anchored portfolio to 76 assets.

The REIT has also completed two Australian redevelopments since 30 June 2013 – the $62 million redevelopment of Singleton Square in NSW and the $15 million redevelopment of South Hedland Square in Western Australia. Both have current occupancy of 95.6 per cent and 99 per cent respectively.

Caboolture, Queensland will also be redeveloped, which will involve the installation of a new travelator, full mall refurbishment and two new anchor lease deals. It is forecast to cost $15.9 million. Construction is expected to commence in November 2013.

“We are pleased to have continued to deliver on our strategy of strengthening our Australian portfolio through both acquisitions and redevelopments,” Dundas.

“We continue to see positive buying opportunities across the Australian market at this time as well as redevelopment opportunities within our existing portfolio, which is a profitable and efficient way of deploying capital and enhancing returns from the existing portfolio.”