Bruntwood boosts profit by 62%

Developer and asset manager Bruntwood has reported record profit of £116m in its latest financial results, in a year that saw its investment in developments drop from £93m to £49m.

In its results covering the year to 30 September 2018, the group saw pre-tax profit rise to £116m, up from £70m a year earlier. Assets under management rose to £1.27bn, up from £1.09bn, while shareholders’ funds increased to £570m from £513m.

Bruntwood owns more than 100 buildings across the North and the Midlands which are home to around 3,000 companies. During its 2018 financial year, £19.3m was invested in capital improvements and refurbishments, compared with £17.3m a year earlier.

Turnover also rose marginally, rising to £137.6m from £131.5m year-on-year.

However, investment in developments declined steeply, dropping from £93.2m last year to £49m this year.

The figures represent significant growth over the past five years; the group reported a pre-tax profit of £12.4m in its 2013 results, with profits increasing nearly tenfold since then.

The company said its rise in profit was due to “the value it added to its properties in key cities,” alongside “continuing to innovate its products and services, and focussing on supporting key citywide strategic priorities”.

Highlights in the financial year included the confirmation of a pre-let for the £60m Citylabs 2.0 development in Manchester, which is being developed by Manchester Science Partnerships. Molecular diagnostics firm Qiagen has agreed to take the entirety of the 92,000 sq ft building, which is being built by Sir Robert McAlpine.

The group also opened the Union Building in September, which is now the company’s HQ on Manchester’s Albert Square. Other tenants have also signed up to the building including Citypress, which has taken 10,000 sq ft in the 66,000 sq ft building.

Looking ahead, Bruntwood chief executive Chris Oglesby predicted regional markets would be “resilient enough to withstand the stormy waters that may emerge in the months ahead”.

“Brexit is, of course, a huge challenge for our economy, but by working with our civic and academic partners towards a common goal of creating the environments where businesses – particularly in globally-facing sectors such as science and technology – can prosper, we will play our part in meeting this challenge,” he said.

In October last year, the group also formed a 50-50 joint venture with Legal & General named Bruntwood SciTech. This will see the new company expand its portfolio to cover more than 6m sq ft of science and technology space.

The JV has already made its first investment, backing a speculative laboratory development at Alderley Park with a £10m funding package in December last year.

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Not all regional markets will be resilient. Only the small number which have been pump primed. The ones which have been milked, stripped of their assets and abandoned can expect to be devastated by any downturn.

Hopefully that will impact on those who have indulged in short term profiteering, in the end. We’re only a small island after all. Should Liverpool now tank, it will not be containable. In that instance, it would be preferable for it to be short term profiteers who suffer, rather than only the decent everyday folk whose cities are ruined for someone else’s short term gain.

By Mike

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