THE chief executive of SpaceandPeople said the shopping centre marketing specialist is bracing itself for a “substantive downturn in sales for the duration of the pandemic”.

Matthew Bending said he anticipates the availability of venues and space within malls to be “constrained and regionally variable” to allow normal operations.

The comments came as the Glasgow-based firm, which manages space in malls in the UK, Germany, and India, reported a return to profitability for the year to December 31.

It said it plans to push pop-up retailers into empty stores in shopping centres to boost the sale of existing stock under a new plan by the company.

READ MORE: Intu Braehead tumbles into administration

Mr Bending said: “This is intended to be a temporary solution until venues and operators get back on track and it has been well received by property clients and a new breed of short-term retailers who are looking to trial conventional brick and mortar shopping locations, maybe for the first time.

“We believe that landlord and retailer relationship have to evolve, as old retailers disappear and new retailers decide whether to go online or take units in malls.

“I am confident that traditional shopping can thrive again, but finding innovative retailers requires an approach that is not delivered by traditional leasing agents.”

He said: “From a standing start, we have brought over 50 new retailers to the attention of UK landlords, offering attractive models for empty units on short term leases.”

It comes as the company reported gross revenue of £17.3 million for the year, down from £18.8m the previous year, with net revenue at £7.7m against £8.1m. Operating profit sat at £100,000 which compares to a restated loss of £50,000 from the year before.

Mr Bending added the firm envisages “that pop-up and kiosk retail in the UK and Germany will be prime income drivers”.

Shares closed down 3.6 per cent at 6.75p.