Push for devolution boosts property firm

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY firm Bruntwood believes it’s well-placed to benefit from policies that give more power to regional cities.

The company, which is behind redevelopment schemes such as 100 Wellington Street in Leeds, saw its profit before tax rise 56 per cent to £19.3m in the financial year ending September 2014. Turnover was level at £106m. The business reduced its total debt from £590m to £440m.

The company said its performance had been boosted by the strong performance of regional cities like Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester.

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Bruntwood also took advantage of the growing investor interest in regional cities through three property disposals, including selling Manchester’s City Tower for £135m.

Chief executive Chris Oglesby said: “2014 has been a standout year for Bruntwood. The fact that we continued to invest in our portfolio during the economic downturn has positioned us well to fulfil the uptake in demand that we’ve seen across all of our markets, as the economy has recovered and the focus has shifted to the major city regions as engines of growth.

“We have always aligned our business with the strategic direction of the economies in which we operate.

“Political initiatives such as the Northern Powerhouse and further regional devolution are good for the future of our cities, and good for our business as well.

“It’s our opinion that, with the strength of our occupational markets, coupled with long term gilt rates at an all time low of 1.5 per cent, we are likely to see significant further growth in commercial property values in our markets.”

Mr Oglesby said the company was entering 2015 with confidence, as it prepares to deliver a development pipeline of more than two million sq ft, including 3 Sovereign Square and City House in Leeds.