Big mall operator has upbeat view on consumer confidence

Westfield: Very pleased with H1 results

Westfield Corporation, one of the world's top shopping mall operators, has sounded an upbeat note on consumption and confidence.

Steven Lowy, co-chief executive of Australia-listed Westfield, which operates malls in 40 locations in the U.S. and U.K., told CNBC that consumer spending was buoyant at the company's properties.

"We're finding consumers to be robust [and] resilient, and that's reflected in our flagship sales from the retailers, which were up over 10 percent for the first half of the year," said Lowy in a CNBC interview.

Westfield Stratford City Mall, London.
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Demand from retailers for store space rental was also healthy "with over 95 percent [of mall space] leased and occupied," he added.

Westfield reported first-half net profit of $465.9 million on Wednesday, in line with expectations.

Lowy attributed the apparent strength in consumer sentiment to macro-fundamentals including "sustained GDP growth, low levels of unemployment, low gasoline prices, low interest rates, strong housing markets" in the U.S. and the U.K.

The Westfield Co-CEO said that the company was "in a sweet spot at the moment," a year after it was created from the June 2014 split in Westfield Group that put the group's Australian and New Zealand businesses into a company called Scentre Group.

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Westfield's focus on major cities like New York and London was paying off because "short-term volatility in these markets have no impact on our ability to produce profits or develop the buildings," Lowy added.

The shopping center operator has a $11.4 billion in development program for new mall projects in areas including Los Angeles and San Diego. Included under the program is Westfield London which, once completed, will break records as Europe's largest shopping center.

Another major project is the $1.4 billion Westfield World Trade Center in New York, at the site of the September 11 terrorist attack, is due first half of next year and is already fully leased, Lowy said.