In France, we operate centers in four regional cities: Bordeaux, Le Havre, Rouen, and Strasbourg. We also have a center in Argenteuil, north-west of Paris.
In 2019, nearly 41.6 million people visited our centers in France. Across our centers, we have more than 400 tenants, including H&M, Leclerc, Pathé, Auchan, Sephora and Inditex, owners of fashion store Zara. The French portfolio is managed by XX employees.
Results and valuation
Net rental income in France decreased by 11.1% to € 40.8m (2016: € 45.9m). Rents are under pressure, as the largest fashion chains are optimising their store base. Bad debt and defaulting tenants also impacted rental income. Like-for-like rental decline for the year 2017 amounted to 7.0% (index 1.0%). After the management change in our French operations we defined two key priorities: securing key anchors and improving the overall tenant quality, commercially and financially. Overall occupancy in France decreased to 91.9% in Q3, but recovered to 93.2% at year-end 2017 (2016: 94.4%). Several key anchors were secured, albeit at lower rents. The full year impact on net rental income will continue in H1 2018. As announced earlier, our target is to stabilise net rental income in France during 2018.
New leases added to the overall quality of our tenant portfolio. A total of 63 leases was signed for a total of 21,445m². Leases were signed with Mango in Mériadeck, a package deal with H&M for the entire portfolio, Action and Zeeman for Coté Seine, SuperDry and Etam in Docks76 and Rituals in Rivetoile. Footfall in the French shopping centres went up by 0.7%, which is 2.5% above the French CNCC index. Especially Docks Vauban and Rivetoile performed well.
The portfolio was valued at € 877.1m on December 31, 2017 (2016: € 899.7m).
In Le Havre, the shell for the Primark in Docks Vauban was completed in July 2017 and tenant fit-out works started early in August. Primark will open its doors on February 21, 2018. The announced store opening has added to the appeal of the centre. The sealing project was completed in December 2016. Footfall numbers are positive and leasing activity is increasing. Now that the inner climate has improved, specialty leasing is also picking up.In Rouen, works for the Verrerie project at the Saint Sever shopping centre started on October 2, 2017. The project will add an extensive food hall in front of the entrance of the Kinepolis cinema. Vapiano signed as one of the first food anchors.