Retail property group Hammerson has appointed a new chief executive.
The listed company has recruited Rita-Rose Gagné who was most recently president of growth markets at Montreal-based real estate company Ivanhoé Cambridge where she had responsibility for £6 billion of assets across Asia Pacific and Latin America.
She joined Ivanhoé Cambridge in 2006 and held a variety of roles including senior vice-president of legal affairs and executive vice-president of global strategy.
Ms Gagné is also a lawyer and has worked in property markets across the world, including the UK, France and Germany.
It is anticipated she will take up her new role with Hammerson before the end of the year and will receive a salary worth £672,000 and a relocation allowance of £400,000 for the move from Canada.
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Incumbent David Atkins, who announced in May that he was stepping down after a decade in the post, will continue as chief executive until she joins the London-based company.
Hammerson owns and manages a string of high-profile shopping centres and retail parks across the country including Bullring and Grand Central in Birmingham, Cabot Circus in Bristol, Victoria Gates in Leeds and Highcross in Leicester.
Ms Gagné joins the firm at a tumultuous time for retail and other commercial property landlords as they grapple with a lack of shoppers visiting stores and tenants going bust as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.
A moratorium on evicting commercial tenants unable to pay their rents because of the pandemic has been extended by the Government until the end of the year, exerting further financial pressure on landlords.
In August, Hammerson announced a fundraise of more than £800 million after selling a 50 per cent stake in its European shopping centre owner VIA Outlets as it strives to pay down a massive debt bill.
At the time, the deal was thought to bring that debt down to around £2.2 billion.
Ms Gagné said: “The retail and real estate sectors are going through a period of unprecedented change which makes this a very exciting time to be joining the business.
“I look forward to working with Hammerson’s experienced team and all its stakeholders to both navigate through the challenges but also seek out the opportunities to create value moving forward.”
Chairman Robert Noel added: “I am delighted that Rita-Rose will join Hammerson as our next chief executive.
“She has an excellent track record in international real estate investment, building high-quality teams, developing strategic partnerships, execution and delivering results.
“On behalf of the board, and all colleagues in the business, I look forward to welcoming Rita-Rose to Hammerson and working with her when she joins.”