One of the country's significant retail landlords, Scentre Group, has reshuffled its senior management with the appointment of long-time Westfield employee Elliott Rusanow as new chief financial officer.
It comes following the retirement of Mark Bloom after 15 years with Scentre Group and previously Westfield Group.
Mr Bloom will officially step down at the Scentre annual general meeting on April 4, the same time as former board member Steven Lowy also retires from his role at Scentre. Mr Rusanow was previously the CFO for Westfield Corporation, based in the US.
It will mark the near-end of ties with the former Westfield group, which was co-founded by Sir Frank Lowy and John Saunders, and Scentre, which was spun out of Westfield in 2014.
Scentre now owns and manages Westfield shopping centres in Australia and New Zealand. Westfield was taken over in December 2017 by French-based Unibail Rodamco.
Scentre Group’s chief executive Peter Allen said Mr Bloom has ''made an outstanding contribution to the performance of Scentre Group since its formation in June 2014''.
Mr Bloom said, as he retires from full time executive work, ''I am especially proud of what I have been able to contribute to Scentre Group since its establishment''.
''Scentre Group now has the highest quality portfolio of centres, has a highly engaged and energetic team and is strategically well placed to succeed into the future,'' Mr Bloom said.
But the changes come as retail landlords and tenants are entering a period of uncertainty with two elections looming, in NSW and federally, concerns about wage growth and housing price declines, all of which will weigh on consumer spending.
The start of calendar 2019 has already been tough for retailers with sales flat and even falling in some areas and the discounting periods, particularly for apparel, being extended to clear summer stock in preparation for autumn fashions.
Last week Vicinity Centres wrote back the value of its non-flagship malls by $37 million, saying the net valuation declines were recorded across a number of regional, sub regional and neighbourhood
centres largely driven by recent market transactional evidence, including some softening in capitalisation rates.
Sholto Maconochie, the head of real estate research at CLSA Australia, expects Scentre to meet its full year 2018 funds from operation guidance of 4 per cent growth, with comparative net operating income (NOI) growth of 2.5 per cent to 3 per cent.
''But we expect negative leasing spreads of about 3 per cent. Given Scentre's share of completed developments in 2018 was over $800 million, we expect an additional $55 million of new NOI, which in 2019 which should more than offset lost rent from development-impacted centres,'' Mr Maconochie said.
According to Peter Zuk, senior analyst at Shaw and Partners, what is clear is that signs of a correction in the retail asset class are starting to emerge, as evidenced in the decline in the value of the regional, sub regional and neighbourhood centre classes,.
Scentre securities were up 1.1 per cent to $4.03.