PROPERTY group British Land highlighted the development prospects for its Scottish shopping centres as it reported a 3.8% rise in underlying first-half pre-tax profits to £137 million and claimed market trends were in its favour.

British Land saw like-for-like rental income increase by 1.2% in the UK over the period.

Its portfolio valuation was in line with that of six months ago at £10.4 billion.

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The group also announced chairman Chris Gibson-Smith would step down at the end of the year, to be replaced by John Gildersleeve, who is currently the senior independent director.

British Land said that at Glasgow Fort shopping centre, where occupancy rates are currently 98.7%, its fully pre-let 45,000 square foot cinema and restaurant extension is scheduled to open in September 2013. It said this would improve its leisure offering.

British Land also plans to add a cinema at Fort Kinnaird, Edinburgh, for which it has submitted an application for planning permission.

It highlighted "polarisation" in the retail space as to why some areas do well but others struggle to attract shoppers and tenants.

The company added that with debt funding in short supply, development returns "will remain attractive".

Commercial property has been hard hit during the credit crunch and recession.

British Land chief executive Chris Grigg said it remained a "tough market". But he added: "The decisions we have taken in recent years are ensuring we are not only delivering good results today but are also building growth into our portfolio for the future."

British Land's shares closed flat at 515p.