Commercial property giant Bruntwood has surged back into the black as it continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, new figures have revealed.
The Manchester-headquartered group, which also has locations in Birmingham, Cheshire, Leeds and Liverpool, has posted pre-tax profit of £44.9m for the 12 months to the end of September 2021, up from losses of £18.9m in the prior year.
However, its turnover fell from £134.4m to £122.6m following the outsourcing of its fitout, FM and energy services units and 300 employees into new standalone businesses – CubicWorks and Unify Management Solutions – outside of the group structure, as well as the absence of non-recurring development income reported in 2019 and 2020.
Bruntwood completed more than 703,000 sq ft of leasing transactions across its portfolios during the period, with 70% of customers retained at lease break or expiry.
Net asset value increased from £588.6m to £606.5m despite the on-going impact of the pandemic and social distancing restrictions since October 2020.
The group also invested £18.6m into refurbishment and capital improvement projects across its portfolio last year, along with an additional £27.8m of equity injected into Bruntwood SciTech that was matched by its joint venture partner Legal & General. SciTech committed £80.8m to new development schemes.
The value of Bruntwood’s 100%-owned Bruntwood Works portfolio surpassed £1bn for the first time after reaching £1.03bn, up from £973.1m.
Bruntwood SciTech’s portfolio also grew, reaching £669.5m, up from £545.7m, taking the total value of Bruntwood’s assets to more than £1.7bn.
The group also completed two major funding deals including a new £276m, 15-year sustainability-linked facility with Aviva Investors and the extension of a £240m club with NatWest/HSBC/Barclays/Santander to March 2023. Bruntwood has £50m in undrawn commitments.
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Some of Bruntwood’s buildings include 111 Piccadilly, Affleck’s and Citylabs in Manchester as well as Mclaren and the Cornwall Buildings in Birmingham and it is the development partner for the city’s Health Innovation Campus.
Chief executive Chris Oglesby said: “Our ability to attract, retain and grow with our customers owes a huge amount to our unwavering commitment to invest in our offering, even when operating within the challenging economic environment of the past two years.
“The impact of this approach is clear to see in our brilliant financial performance last year.
“In the early days of the pandemic, there was a lot of hyperbolic commentary about the decline of our city centres and their workplaces.
“But in fact, what happened was that businesses and people felt the impact their absence had on the innovation, collaboration and interactions that make our economies successful and our lives richer.”
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Bruntwood SciTech has also posted pre-tax profits of £17.1m after making a loss of £7.6m in the prior year.
Its net asset value increased from £231m to £235.3m and its turnover grew almost 30% from £40.1m to £51.8m.
Kate Lawlor, CEO of Bruntwood SciTech, said: “Unlocking the power of the science and technology industries of our cities is a key pillar of the UK’s economic strategy, and this focus is driving our growth and our ambitious plans for the future.
“This year was a tipping point for the business in many ways. The momentum behind our expansion saw us take Bruntwood SciTech into new strategic locations, secure our largest ever development opportunity and saw several new transformational projects take some big steps forward.”
Mr Oglesby added: “While there may be bumps ahead as the world adjusts to Covid becoming an endemic condition, we have never been more convinced of the vital long-term importance of our cities being able to thrive.
“This is our purpose and we’re doubling down on our commitment to it by ramping up our investment and development activity this year.
“We will expand Bruntwood Works’ Pioneer investment programme and Bruntwood SciTech’s network of innovation districts.
“And of course, our thriving cities need to be surrounded by a diverse network of thriving towns, so we will also continue to invest in our existing town centre partnerships while exploring new ones.
“And we’ll mark notable progress on our work with two hospital campuses, bolstering their role as community anchors for our towns and cities and their ability to help address health inequalities.
“All of this while making further significant strides towards achieving our goal of becoming net zero by 2030.”