Leading regional property group Bruntwood has announced increased profits and turnover for the year to the end of September 2017, as its focus on its customers continued to deliver.
The group, which owns more than 100 buildings across Manchester and Cheshire, Birmingham, Leeds and Liverpool, is committed to helping make the UK’s great city regions even greater. Bruntwood invests long term to create vibrant places that support the 3,000 companies that operate in its spaces.
The group’s growth strategy continues to support knowledge-led sectors such as science and technology, which will drive the UK economy forward.
Accounts for Bruntwood Group filed this week at Companies House show pre-tax profits in the period rose 5% to £71.6m (2016: £69m), while turnover rose 11% to £131.5m (2016: £118.4m).
Net assets increased 14% to £539m, up from £473m in 2016, while property valuations increased by £54.2m (+5%) to £1.107bn.
Reflecting Bruntwood Group’s long-standing commitment to making a difference to the communities it operates in, some £4.8m was donated to local charities and community initiatives, an increase of £1.3m on the 2016 total. Good causes spanning the environment, the arts, medical research, education and tackling social inequality received support.
Commenting on “another successful year” Bruntwood Group Chief Executive Chris Oglesby said the financial results were “clear evidence of our customer -focussed business model creating value through development and asset management, which in turn has led to an increase in occupancy of our buildings.”
During the year the Group, which employs 650 people, invested £17m in office refurbishments and capital improvements and £93.2m in development schemes, including at Alderley Park in Cheshire and Circle Square, its £750m joint venture with Select Property Group.
A successful year of new business wins and increasing occupancy levels across all core markets saw 890,000 sq ft of leasing transactions. The year also saw the completion of a number of significant regional projects, including Neo in Manchester, Cornerblock in the heart of Birmingham’s central business district, and Platform in Leeds, which occupies a prime location above the city’s railway station.
Bruntwood also completed the 70,000 sq ft Bright Building at Manchester Science Park for its subsidiary Manchester Science Partnerships. Launched alongside the Bright Building in September 2017 was Mi-IDEA (Manchester Inspired Innovation Digital Enterprise Alliance), a post-accelerator programme and co-innovation ecosystem delivered by MSP and Cisco, supporting SMEs working in digital health, the Internet of Things and Smart Cities.
In Manchester and Leeds the Group was also successful in winning government funding to launch new tech hubs, which will support start-ups in the digital economy
Reflecting the broadening nature of Alderley Park, Bruntwood’s international life sciences campus in Cheshire, 2017 saw the launch of two pioneering national initiatives, the Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) and the Anti-Microbial Resistance Centre (AMRC).
Since the year end a deal has been struck with Cancer Research UK for them to relocate its Manchester Institute to Alderley Park after a huge fire last April at the Institute’s long-standing home, the Paterson Building in Manchester.
Commenting on the dynamics of the market place Mr Oglesby said: “Our business is set against a backdrop of change and uncertainty in the wider world. We are witnessing unprecedented levels of disruption in many areas of life driven by rapid technological and digital developments.
“While the property sector is traditionally slow to change, Bruntwood has always sought to disrupt the market through innovation of our customer proposition. We continue to be restless, developing new models that continue to shape markets, meet the demands of the new growth sectors and the new patterns of living and working and are aligned to the strategies of our cities.”
Bruntwood is a member of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, an influential group of Northern civic and business leaders, and a supporter of the Midlands Engine strategy.
Mr Oglesby added: “I was pleased to see the Chancellor reinforcing the importance of the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine in the Autumn Budget. The economic rationale that underpins the concepts is undeniable.
“It is also pleasing to see the recognition of the value of further devolution, something we see as critical in rebalancing the country’s economy. We will continue to support these initiatives and play our unique role in making these great city regions greater.”
He pledged: “Our business will continue to work with government to ensure that Bruntwood’s strategy for our cities, and particularly the focus on their science and technology sectors, contributes fully to the country’s Industrial Strategy and Life Science Strategy published in December 2017.
“Our presence in four of the major cities which sit at the heart of these two economic regions, coupled with our deep experience that cross academic, clinical and industry boundaries, gives us a unique opportunity to both contribute to and benefit from the growth of businesses driven by science and technology.”
2018 will be another year of major development activity across the group, but at three major schemes in particular - Circle Square, Citylabs 2.0 and 3.0 and the continued development of Alderley Park.
He added: “Looking forward, the Group is well-placed, with a strong balance sheet, a successful business model, an evolving product mix aligned to the needs of its customers, a portfolio which is both geographically strong and increasingly focussed on the growth sectors of tomorrow.
“We have a good pipeline of acquisitions and partnerships across our four core city regions and see 2018 as another year of strong growth.”