Shaftesbury shops provide profit jump

Marion Dakers
WEST END property company Shaftesbury posted double-digit growth in its asset value for the full-year yesterday, and said it expected strong demand for its shops, pubs and restaurants to continue.

Shaftesbury also said it was hunting for a new chief executive, after current boss Jonathan Lane announced his intention to retire in 2011 after 24 years with the firm. Lane will stay on as deputy chairman.

The company posted full-year pre-tax profit of £22.3m, up from £21.3m last year. Adjusted net asset value has risen 24 per cent on last year to £948.2m, or £4.14 per share.

Shaftesbury plans to pay a second-half dividend of 5.25p a share, taking the total for the year to 10.25p.

Chairman John Manser said the company made good progress in 2010, having let 81 per cent of commercial space at its St Martin’s Courtyard scheme in Covent Garden.

He said the firm would continue to seek acquisitions, on top of properties worth £65.3m bought last year.

“We expect strong occupier demand for our properties to continue, and we are confident that we shall maintain our record of delivering out-performance in income, dividends and capital values.”

Evolution Securities analyst John Cahill said in a note the results are marginally below his forecasts, adding that Lane’s retirement “has been suspected for some time, and Lane will be a hard act to follow. The choice of successor – not an obvious one – will be pivotal for the future of this company.”

Shares fell 1.4 per cent to 435p.

Shaftesbury was set up in 1986 by Peter Levy as a vehicle to buy properties in Chinatown.

It listed on the London market in 1987 and became a real estate investment trust in 2007, and now has properties worth over £863m.