British Land profits lifted by lucrative London property market

 
Jessica Morris
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British Land is the developer responsible for the "Cheesegrater" (Source: Getty)

The figures:

British Land said that underlying profit before tax rose 5.4 per cent to £313m for this financial year, up from £297m a year earlier. Diluted underlying earnings per share rose 4.1 per cent to 30.6p, an increase from 29.4p in 2014.

The developer's total portfolio valuation rose by 12.1 per cent to £13.63bn. This was driven by gains in offices and residential which rose by 18.8 per cent to £6.08bn "reflecting buoyant markets".

Why it's interesting:

British Land, the developer behind the "Cheesegrater" as well as Leadenhall market, has been taking steps to increase the weighting of its portfolio towards London and the south east.

And it's paid off with offices and residential having a stellar year "reflecting the strength of the London market" as well as the company's actions.

The residential property market has something of a "ripple effect" as property prices surge in the south east, with Londoners being priced out of the capital or choosing to sell up in order to cash in. And the commercial property market has been lifted by the sheer amount of companies clamouring for office space in capital.

Additionally, the developer has been decreasing its exposure to "superstores" which have been eating into the profit margins of grocers like Tesco and Sainsbury. It sold its joint venture interest in the Tesco Aqua Limited Partnership and three Sainsbury's superstores.

British Land also said that its office rentals were benefiting from London's burgeoning technology sector, with customers like Facebook as well as collaborative workspace providers WeWork and Central Working.

"We are also attracting a new type of occupier, with technology and creative sectors accounting for a growing proportion of lettings," it said.

What British Land said

Chris Grigg, chief executive of British Land, said:

We are announcing a strong set of results today with the Group continuing to outperform on a range of measures.

This reflects the strategic decisions we have taken over the last five years to re-position the business, alongside the strength of our day to day asset management activities.

I am particularly pleased with our exceptional leasing activity over the year, which is the clearest indication we are creating environments where people want to work, shop and live.

As we look ahead, our results give us confidence we are well positioned for changing trends in the real estate sector: we have a modern portfolio focused on the right locations; a strong balance sheet with a low cost of debt; and an exciting development programme

In short:

British Land's focus on London and the south east is definitely paying off - and leaves it positioned to benefit from continued property price growth there.

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