By Aimee Chanthadavong

The Westfield Group announced its global operations continue to perform in line with expectations for the third quarter update of the nine months to 30 September 2013.

The company’s global portfolio now comprises of 91 shopping centres in four countries with around 20,500 retail shops, over 1 billion annual customer visits and over $40 billion in annual retail sales.

As at 30 September 2013, the global portfolio was 97.9 per cent leased, up 20 basis points compared to the same period last year. In the United States the portfolio was 93.7 per cent leased, up 60 basis points on a comparable centre basis with the Australian New Zealand and United Kingdom portfolios at over 99.5 per cent and 99.1 per cent leased respectively.

This follows the sale of seven non-core shopping centres in the United States to Starwood Capital Group for US$1.64 billion, as well as the sale of its 16.67 per cent interest in Karrinyup, Perth for $123.3 million.

For the 12 months to September, comparable specialty retail sales were up 4.5 per cent in the United States and remained steady in Australia and New Zealand.

In Australia, whilst retail conditions remain consistent with prior periods the productivity of the portfolio remains high at over $9,800 per square metre (psm), with continuing demand for space from both domestic and international retailers.

Average specialty rent for the Australian/New Zealand portfolio grew by 1.9 per cent from
September 2012 with average rent in Australia now at $1,532 psm and New Zealand at NZ$1,129 psm. In Australia, for the 9 months almost 1,700 leasing deals were completed.

The Group also reported it continues to make good progress on its $2.7 billion of current development projects and development pipeline.