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H&R Provides Business Update, Announces Senior Executive Appointments & Retirement

H&R Provides Business Update, Announces Senior Executive Appointments & Retirement

Canada NewsWire

TORONTO, July 28, 2020 /CNW/ - H&R Real Estate Investment Trust ("H&R" or "the REIT") (TSX: HR.UN) is pleased to announce the following recent developments:

  • Strong and rising rent collections reaching 88% overall in July, driven by improving collections in the Primaris portfolio

  • Update on tenant restructurings and store retention

  • The appointment of Alex Avery as Executive Vice President, Asset Management & Strategic Initiatives

  • The promotion of Blair Kundell to Executive Vice President, Operations

  • The retirement of Nathan Uhr from the role of Chief Operating Officer

2020 has brought considerable disruption to the economy globally, and to H&R and its tenants.  First and foremost, H&R has been focused on providing safe and functional environments for its tenants, staff and visitors to its properties throughout the COVID 19 pandemic, while also acting in the best interests of its unitholders. The diligent efforts of H&R's employees have been essential to the REIT's success in delivering strong rent collection while accommodating the needs of its tenants and other stakeholders.  

July Rent Collection Statistics

The REIT has achieved strong rent collection since April 2020, with material improvement in July to overall rent collection of 88% month to date, as many tenants have been able to re-open for business.  Tenant receipts for July rent charges through July 27th by property type:

Tenant Type

Share of Rent

July Collection

Office

44%

100%

Retail



Enclosed malls

20%

56%

Other

13%

91%

Total Retail

33%

70%

Residential

17%

95%

Industrial

6%

97%

Total REIT Portfolio

100%

88%

Performance of the Primaris enclosed mall portfolio is particularly noteworthy, as it has delivered consistently stronger than industry-average mall rent collections throughout the pandemic.  The following table summarizes monthly rent collections from April 1st through July 27th:

Gross Rent Collections

April

May

June

July to date

Enclosed Malls

45%

41%

46%

56%

Total REIT Portfolio

87%

85%

86%

88%

Rents from many of the REIT's tenants in each of April, May, June and July are eligible for the Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, applications for which were submitted last week.  Establishing eligibility, the administration of applications and the timing of payments have all delayed the resolution of rent deferrals, with many agreements still in discussion.  Management expects collections to continue to improve over time, and expects further improvement of collections in August, once the CECRA process is concluded.

Within the enclosed mall portfolio, tenant operations are returning to more normal conditions:

  • All enclosed mall properties have resumed operations, with Dufferin Mall in Toronto the last property to re-open on June 24th.

  • Over 90% of retailers are open, with some still transitioning from limited hours back to full mall hours.

  • Tenants are reporting brisk sales and contending with depressed inventory levels.

  • CECRA applications on behalf of ~565 tenants across 25 Primaris properties covering $15.3 million of gross rent at H&R's share, cumulatively for the four months of April, May, June and July, were submitted July 23rd. The associated 25% abatement is estimated at $3.8 million (at the REIT's share) and H&R expects to collect a significant portion of the remaining $11.5 million due under CECRA from tenants and the Government of Canada in the near term.

In the remainder of the REIT's portfolio there are an additional 43 tenants with CECRA applications covering $1.3 million of rent for the four months April through July, and an associated expected abatement of $0.3 million, at H&R's share. Management continues to evaluate rent deferral requests on a case by case basis. The REIT expects a significant portion of the balance of April - July rent owing will be collected over time.

Tenant Restructurings and Store Retention

Many retailers have faced very challenging conditions in recent months, and several have announced store closures, both negotiated and under CCAA creditor protection.  The REIT's focus on maintaining affordable cost structures for its mall-based retailers has resulted in both the above average rent collections, versus other large mall owners, and high retention of store locations by tenants planning store closures elsewhere.

Retailer

# of Locations

Retained

% Retained

Comark

26

26

100%

Aldo

19

15

79%

Reitmans

17

14

82%

GNC

9

5

56%

Ascena

7

1

14%

Pier 1

3

0

0%

Total

81

61

75%

Among other retailers, David's Tea (16 current locations) and Le Chateau (13) have announced plans for closures, and management is in discussion with these retailers regarding their plans.  Management expects no closures from GAP, H&M, L Brands in our portfolio, and the REIT does not have any locations with Brooks Brothers, Lucky Brands, J. Crew or Microsoft.

Senior Executive Changes

As the real estate industry and the REIT's scale and operations continue to evolve, H&R is committed to prudently expanding its in-house management resources to keep pace.  The emergence of COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of change in the real estate industry, bringing both opportunities and challenges. The following changes are designed to enhance the REIT's capabilities as its business continues to evolve.

Alex Avery has been appointed Executive Vice President, Asset Management & Strategic Initiatives.  Mr. Avery has been a member of the REIT's board of trustees since 2017, and in this newly created role he will pursue opportunities to leverage the scale and capabilities of H&R, focus on diversifying and optimizing the REIT's sources and cost of capital, as well as undertake initiatives key to the strategic goals of the REIT.  Mr. Avery will work closely with the Lantower Residential and Primaris operating segments, as well as engage with investors.  Mr. Avery brings a wealth of capital markets experience and knowledge as a thought leader, analyst and investment manager, and will continue as a member of H&R's board of trustees.

Blair Kundell has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Operations. Mr. Kundell joined H&R in 2004, and has held progressively more senior executive roles, most recently as Vice President, Operations.  In his new, expanded role Mr. Kundell is responsible for building operations, tenant services and joint health and safety across the REIT's office and industrial portfolios aggregating 28 million square feet across North America.  Mr. Kundell's experience includes a variety of roles overseeing commercial property operations, project management, tenant services, and emergency preparedness.

It is with mixed emotions that H&R announces the retirement of Nathan Uhr from the role of Chief Operating Officer.

"For nearly 50 years Nathan has played a key role in H&R's evolution, at predecessor companies through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, joining the REIT's senior management team in 1996 at the time of the initial public offering.  He has been a dear friend to our organization and my family, and his contribution to the REIT's operations have been essential." said Tom Hofstedter, President & CEO of H&R REIT.  "I personally have benefitted from my association with Nathan and learned a lot from him. I will very much miss our daily interactions."

Fortunately, Mr. Uhr has agreed to remain available to the REIT's management to share his wealth of knowledge and experience, as he pursues retirement interests.

"H&R REIT is a dynamic organization operating in a dynamic marketplace. Our leadership team needs to evolve with the changing nature of our business and the environment in which we operate.  Over the past five years H&R has seen significant change, including substantial capital recycling, streamlining and simplifying of the portfolio, and a renewed sense of focus." commented Tom Hofstedter. "As H&R explores new opportunities to leverage our scale and platform, and address the uncertainties of evolving property markets, the changes announced today are consistent with our efforts to best position the REIT for success."

About H&R REIT

H&R REIT is one of Canada's largest real estate investment trusts with total assets of approximately $13.4 billion at March 31, 2020. H&R REIT has ownership interests in a North American portfolio of high quality office, retail, industrial and residential properties comprising over 40 million square feet.

Forward-Looking Disclaimer

Certain statements in this news release contain forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws (also known as forward-looking statements). These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, H&R's plans, objectives, expectations and intentions, including with respect to the collection of April rent owing and the payment of distributions. Such forward-looking statements reflect H&R's current beliefs and are based on information currently available to management. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and are based on H&R's estimates and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties, including those discussed in H&R's materials filed with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities from time to time, which could cause the actual results and performance of H&R to differ materially from the forward-looking statements contained in this news release. Although the forward-looking statements contained in this news release are based upon what H&R believes are reasonable assumptions, there can be no assurance that actual results will be consistent with these forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements in this news release are qualified by these cautionary statements. These forward-looking statements are made as of today and H&R, except as required by applicable law, assumes no obligation to update or revise them to reflect new information or the occurrence of future events or circumstances.

Additional information regarding H&R is available at www.hr-reit.com and on www.sedar.com.

SOURCE H&R Real Estate Investment Trust

Cision View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/July2020/28/c8175.html

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