Resurgence across the region’s commercial market helped St Modwen Properties add to underlying profit in the six months to June 2015.
Pre-tax profit leapt 300% to £203.1m compared to the first half of 2014, but the bulk of this came due to the valuation gain from consent for a major scheme at Covent Garden in London. There was a 21% increase in net asset value per share to 394p (Nov 2014: 325p) and earnings per share were up 281% to 75.4p (H1 2014: 19.8p).
Bill Oliver, chief executive, said: “Encouragingly, even excluding the positive impact on initial recognition of New Covent Garden Market, we would still be announcing record half year results with profit before all tax excluding this gain up 50% to £75.1m (H1 2014: £50.0m). This highlights the growing strength of the UK property market and in particular the commercial sector which is now gathering good momentum in the regions, both in terms of occupancy levels and investor interest. This has delivered market-driven valuation increases of £20.4m across the portfolio.”
Steven Knowles, North West regional director, based in Warrington, added: “The regional market is performing well and this is reflected by the strong pick up in commercial activity in the North West. Our Great Homer Street scheme in Liverpool continues to progress following ground-breaking last November. Enabling works are due to complete this summer and construction will commence on the retail units on the eastern side of the scheme. Sainsbury’s 110,000 sq ft store is scheduled to open during late summer 2016.
“Planning consent has now been granted for the transformation of Skelmersdale Town Centre, creating in excess of 500 jobs and bringing much needed retail and leisure facilities to the town. The first anchor leisure tenant Reel Cinemas has been confirmed, committing to a 15-year lease.
“Work has also begun on the new 69,000 sq ft Liverpool depot for express delivery service, DPD (UK), at Stonebridge Park. This is one of three such facilities we are building across the Country for DPD, all of which are in now Solicitors’ hands for sale of the investment. The partnership with Liverpool City Council will create up to 250 permanent and construction jobs. We are also currently planning a further 75,000 sq ft of industrial development.
“We have continued to add value to our existing portfolio of income-producing assets in the region. We have recently acquired Old Mill Industrial Estate, a 101,000 sq ft multi-let site in Preston, and Moorgate Point Industrial Estate in Knowsley, which comprises 445,000 sq ft of industrial and office accommodation.
“We have already secured more than 55 new leases across the region, including national retailer Holland & Barrett at Wythenshawe Town Centre, and three local lettings at Trident Business Park, with our rent roll rising to in excess of £10.8m a year.”
There will be a 30% increase in interim dividend to 1.9p a share (2014: 1.463p a share).