Evolving and investing to support the needs of customers and cities against a backdrop of huge technological disruption and upheaval in the wider UK economy has helped Bruntwood deliver record annual results, announced today.
Bruntwood, with a focus on creating thriving cities at its core, believes that despite the current challenges presented by Brexit, the regional markets it operates in will be resilient enough to withstand the “stormy waters” that may emerge in the months ahead.
Chief Executive Chris Oglesby said: “Brexit is, of course, a huge challenge for our economy, but by working with our civic and academic partners towards a common goal of creating the environments where businesses – particularly in globally-facing sectors such as science and technology – can prosper, we will play our part in meeting this challenge.”
Driven primarily by the value it added to its properties in key cities including Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester, Profit Before Tax in the year ending September 2018 increased 62% to £116m which the company attributed to continuing to innovate its products and services and focusing on supporting key citywide strategic priorities.
Assets under management increased from £1.09bn in 2017 to £1.27bn and Shareholder’s Funds rose to £570m from £513m in 2017, while borrowing as a proportion of value was reduced to less than 45%.
Bruntwood owns more than 100 buildings across the North and Midlands which are home to more than 3,000 companies. During 2018, £19.3m was invested in capital improvements and refurbishments, up from £17.3m in 2017. A further £49m was invested in developments.
In one of the biggest strategic moves of its 42-year history, Bruntwood launched Bruntwood SciTech in October 2018. A 50-50 joint venture with Legal and General, it is the UK's largest property platform dedicated to driving the growth of the science and technology sector in regional cities. Ambitious plans see Bruntwood SciTech set to make a valuable contribution to the Government’s Industrial Strategy, creating over 50,000 high value jobs over the next 10 years. Through the development of environments and ecosystems designed to help companies form, grow and scale, the portfolio is set to expand to over 6m sq ft with a valuation of over £2.5bn.
Further evolution came with the creation of Bruntwood Works, covering its core office portfolio, delivering everything from individual coworking desks and meeting rooms to global headquarters.
Flagship building Union, opened in September 2018, showcasing Bruntwood Works’ approach to design-led collaboration and innovation spaces, attracting Barclays Eagle Lab partnership to the first two floors, incorporating a brand-new café, an 80-seat auditorium, co-working and breakout space at street level and a combination of private offices, meeting rooms and breakout spaces on the first floor.
In March, Bruntwood acquired the 113,000 sq ft Innovation Birmingham Campus. Home to three buildings - iCentrum, Universities Centre and Faraday Wharf, the campus and its community of 170 tech companies is at the centre of Bruntwood SciTech’s ambitious plans for the development and growth of additional science and technology space in the West Midlands. Elsewhere in Birmingham, Cornerblock was relaunched following a £14m refurbishment and is already fully let.
April saw the launch of the Tech Incubator at Platform in Leeds and in May the Manchester Tech Incubator, managed by Manchester Science Partnerships, was officially opened by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.
Designed to support entrepreneurs and early phase data science and digital technology innovation companies it was 90% let within six months of launch and is now home to some of the North West’s most innovative and disruptive tech businesses including Ai Patient, Blockrocket and Wakelet.
The year also saw MSP’s Citylabs 2.0 development 100% pre-let to molecular diagnostics company Qiagen. Due for completion in 2020, the £60m expanded Citylabs campus will become a globally-leading genomics campus for innovation, translational science, precision medicine and molecular diagnostics and will create over 1,500 high value jobs over the next decade; adding over £150m to the Manchester economy and helping to transform the lives of over 3m citizens through access to new tests and targeted treatments developed through pioneering research. The extension to the campus will also see a continued operational joint venture partnership between MSP and MFT. Bruntwood will provide a range of services including planning and construction advice and design services.
Reflecting Bruntwood’s commitment to creating vibrant places, 2018 saw the expansion of pop up retail and leisure destination, Hatch, attracting a range of aspiring entrepreneurs and established independent traders. Crowned ‘Best Pop-up event or project’ at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival awards, 2019 will see the launch of another new phase which will result in over 28 units in total.
Bruntwood, together with the Oglesby Charitable Trust, also continued its long-standing commitment to making a difference to communities; donating £4.6m, to local charities and initiatives spanning the environment, arts, medical research, education and tackling social inequalities
Looking ahead, Chris said: “We are fully focused on our purpose of creating thriving cities and by continuing to invest in our customers, colleagues and communities, despite the macro-economic picture and the uncertainty Brexit will bring, we can be confident of further growth. Our regional cities are thriving and demand for our product and services remains strong, with a good pipeline of deal transactions and opportunities.”