Oglesby: Outstanding year sets up 2m sq ft pipeline

Bruntwood said net value grew by 25% to £358m in the year to the end of September 2014. Turnover was flat at £106m, pre-tax profit rose 56% to £19.3m.

The Manchester and Liverpool based developer-investor said it reduced total debt from £590m to £440m, equivalent to going from 66% to 55% of the value of its 110-asset portfolio.

In doing so, it agreed a new £300m five-year banking facility with Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, HSBC and Santander at the end of 2014. Bruntwood has also been busy in recent months selling non-core properties.

In the commentary in its accounts, the company attributed its growth to both the performance of the business and of the city regions in which it operates.

Over the year, the company completed a number of major redevelopments including Manchester One, Centre City in Birmingham, Cotton Exchange in Liverpool and 100 Wellington Street in Leeds.

It also increased its majority stake in Manchester Science Partnerships and purchased the 400-acre, 1.7m sq ft life sciences site, Alderley Park in Cheshire as well as completing the development of Citylabs on the Oxford Road corridor in Manchester.

Focussing on further growth Bruntwood took advantage of the growing investor interest in the regional cities through three property disposals, including selling Manchester's City Tower for £135m, to release funds for what it describes as its largest ever development programme.

Chris Oglesby, chief executive, said: "2014 has been a standout year for Bruntwood. The fact that we continued to invest in our portfolio during the economic downturn has positioned us well to fulfil the uptake in demand that we've seen across all of our markets as the economy has recovered and the focus has shifted to the major city regions as engines of growth.

"We have always aligned our business with the strategic direction of the economies in which we operate. Political initiatives such as the Northern Powerhouse and further regional devolution are good for the future of our cities and therefore good for our business as well. It's our opinion that with the strength of our occupational markets coupled with long term gilt rates at an all-time low of 1.5%, we are likely to see significant further growth in commercial property values in our markets."

Oglesby added: "We therefore enter 2015 with confidence as we deliver a development pipeline of over 2m sq ft including Alderley Park, 3 Sovereign Square and City House in Leeds, Cornerblock in Manchester, the new 70,000 sq ft Heart of the Park at MSP, Manchester Business School and 2 Cornwall Street in Birmingham as well as fulfilling our ambitious plans for Manchester Science Partnerships."

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