Ainscough: market will remain flat this year

Developer Langtree Group said net asset value rose 3.2% to £76.4m in the year to June 2012.

Pre-tax profits were £12.9m, up nearly 50% on the year before, even though turnover feel to £40.3m from £54.7m. The level of gearing, or borrowing, at year-end was equivalent to 44% of the value of the portfolio.

During the year, the Newton-le-Willows-based group completed the new Langtree Park Rugby League stadium and the adjacent Tesco superstore in St Helens, as well the restoration of the Festival Gardens in Liverpool. Langtree now plans a residential development as the next phase of the development on the rest of the waterfront Liverpool site.

Bill Ainscough, founder and group chairman, said: "A sound financial base has allowed us to actively look for new investment opportunities and in the year we have invested approaching £10m in acquiring further property assets to add to the group property and development portfolio.

"As market conditions remain favourable for acquisitions, we will continue to be active in the market, and expect to see further significant additions to both the development and the property portfolio during the coming year."

"The property market remains very subdued, with still further downward pressure being applied to rents and values. During the year, we have absorbed a further erosion of the gross asset value of our existing property portfolio and in our share of the assets contained within our strategic joint ventures.

"While we have hopefully seen the worst of the fall in property values, I expect the market to remain challenging with no significant value movement in the short term.

"However, we operate a robust business model, retaining a modern cash generative property portfolio accommodating over 1,100 tenants with no over-dependency on any individual sector, tenant or geography.

"We operate within modest levels of gearing, 44% across the group as a whole, allowing our development activity to be linked to strategic investments in longer-term regeneration activities that have the ability to unlock significant latent value."

Group chief executive John Downes added: "It is a fair performance in a challenging economic climate but conditions will remain tough. Overall, we are in good shape but we will remain focussed and work our hardest to get the best results from our existing assets and continue to invest wisely to grow the business. We are always looking for the next opportunity to drive the business forward still further."

Langtree is leading plans to expand Sci-Tech Daresbury, the science and business campus where small technology and medical enterprises work alongside Government scientists. Since the campus was designated an Enterprise Zone in 2011, businesses based there benefit from tax credits.

Downes added: "This is a project with great potential in every sense. We can foresee Sci-Tech Daresbury growing further, to a point where businesses based there could create as many as 15,000 jobs."

Langtree runs the campus in a joint venture with the Science and Technology Facilities Council and Halton Borough Council.

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