Developer and investor Terrace Hill said its new Manchester team will concentrate on the retail sector before the office market, after announcing its interim results covering the period between 31 October 2009 and 30 April 2010.
Terrace Hill recruited Andy Lavin from Maple Grove to head its new Manchester office this month.
Philip Leech, chief executive of Terrace Hill, said: "Andy has been appointed to work up schemes in both the retail and office sectors but while the office market is quiet more attention will be given to the retail market.
"For instance, we've bought Heaton Retail Park and planning consent was obtained in March for a new Sainsbury's store to be built in the area."
Terrace Hill plans to redevelop the park in north Manchester and nearby land occupied by an existing Sainsbury's supermarket, into a new 135,000 sq ft Sainsbury's superstore.
Terrace Hill said the project was one of the operational highlights within today's interim results.
The London-based company said its net assets had increased 0.5% to £78.4m in April this year, from £78.2m on 31 October 2009.
Terrace Hill said profit before tax was £700,000 compared with a loss of £26.2m for the year ended 31 October 2009. Net asset value had also increased by 0.3% in the period to £78.4m from £78.2m. Net debt had dropped from £98.1m to £89.1m.
Speaking about the results, Robert F M Adair, chairman of Terrace Hill, said: "The group's profit before tax for the half year, stated after accounting for changes in the value of our investment properties and movements in the value of our trading stock, was £0.7m, compared with a loss of £26.2m for the year ended 31 October 2009. Our net gearing has reduced to 91.3%, compared with 103.4% at 31 October 2009. Our loan to value ratio has also improved to 57.5%, compared with 59.4% at 31 October 2009, as a consequence of both improvements in values and reduction in debt."
"We have also recently opened an office in Manchester, bringing our total number of offices in the UK to five. This follows from our belief that the best development opportunities are identified and accessed by local teams with intimate knowledge of those markets. Manchester and the North West region is an area which we believe has good potential for us and our initial focus will be to grow our foodstore development pipeline in this area.
"Our residential investment portfolios increased in value by 1.8% in the six months to 30 April 2010 and we are intending to launch, with Aegon Asset Management, a closed end residential investment fund to be seeded with our properties.
"Since reporting our October year end results in March this year, we have agreed terms to re-finance a further £40.6m of joint venture and associated undertaking debt and £12.4m of group debt. We have solid relationships with our lenders and I am very pleased with the huge progress we have made in re-financing facilities."