KUALA LUMPUR (April 16): Capitaland Malaysia Mall Trust (CMMT) saw its net property income (NPI) for the first quarter ended March 31, 2021 (1QFY21) drop 26.79% to RM24.92 million, from RM34.03 million in the preceding quarter.

In a bourse filing, CMMT said its gross revenue came in 15.36% lower at RM56.66 million, from RM66.94 million in 4QFY20, mainly due to lower gross rental income.

The property trust declared a distribution per unit of 0.36 sen, compared with 0.98 sen declared a year earlier.

On a year-on-year basis, CMMT saw its NPI decline 36.7% to RM24.92 million, from RM39.36 million in 1QFY20. Gross revenue was down 24% at RM56.66 million, from RM74.53 million.

The trust said the lower NPI and gross revenue was due to the second Movement Control Order (MCO) that coincided with Chinese New Year, thus impacting shopper traffic and tenants’ business recovery. CMMT said it offered targeted rental rebates to affected tenants.

The trust said the lower gross rental income was due to rebalancing occupancy efforts and rental reversions, and the impact of the MCO.

Looking forward, CMMT noted there is still uncertainty as to when the country's borders will reopen.

“As such, we expect Covid-19 will continue to impact retail recovery in 2021. With the ongoing issue of retail space oversupply, particularly in Klang Valley, the combined challenges have resulted in a subdued retailer sentiment that is not expected to turnaround immediately,” it said.

CMMT expects top line pressure to persist in the near term, and opiness 2021 will be subdued, particularly for the first half of the year.

“Barring any unforeseen circumstances and subject to a successful vaccination roll-out nationwide, we envisage a gradual improvement in the bottom line for 2H 2021. We remain focused on operational recovery and prioritising the safety and well-being of our employees, tenants and shoppers.

"As the potential impact of Covid-19 remains fluid, we will continue to be proactive and flexible to support our stakeholders in navigating the unprecedented challenges, in line with the long-term interests of unitholders,” it added.

CMMT chief executive officer Low Peck Chen said that in the Peninsular Malaysia northern and east cost regions, Gurney Plaza and East Coast Mall respectively have signed up several new international beauty and IT related brands.

“At 3 Damansara, anchor tenant GSC has completed its upgrading works and reopened with the largest Play+ lounge and hall suitable for families and children. The store’s revamp is part of the mall’s ongoing efforts to enhance its offerings and vibrancy.

"Amidst the pandemic challenges, we have rolled out flexible leasing strategies to retain and attract good retailers. We are also exploring potential tenants in non-retail trades, as part of a long-term plan to optimise the use of space and attract a wider catchment of patrons for our Klang Valley malls,” she said.

On Bursa Malaysia, CMMT finished 1.5 sen or 2.19% lower at 67 sen, valuing the trust at RM1.41 billion.

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