Family firm manages more than 800,000 sq ft of office space in and around Liverpool, including The Plaza and the Cotton Exchange. Tony McDonough reports
Commercial property firm Bruntwood is reporting a big rise in annual revenue but a steep fall in pre-tax profits in what it nevertheless described as a “strong” set of results.
The family-owned business, which manages more than 800,000 sq ft of office space in and around Liverpool, said turnover for the 12 months to the end of September 2019 was up 16.6% to £160.1m, while the total value of its assets under management increased from £1.3bn to £1.4bn.
Its pre-tax profit of £52m is significantly lower than the previous year’s figure of £116m, which had been boosted by a number of one-off exceptional items. The Manchester company also said the lower figure was ahead of expectations and “reflective of the re-risked nature of the group”.
It added the percentage of the company’s capital allocated to development was reduced to a third of the level of the previous year largely as a result of the introduction of Legal & General as a JV partner.
Bruntwood owns a number of prominent Liverpool office buildings, including the Cotton Exchange, the Plaza and Queen Insurance Buildings as well as properties in Waterloo and Bootle.
The latest results represent the first financial period since the group created Bruntwood SciTech, a 50-50 joint venture with Legal & General, to develop a network of innovation districts across the UK. It created of Bruntwood SciTech and launched Bruntwood Works – a new brand for its core office business.
Profits included £10m for Bruntwood SciTech following a successful first year for the joint venture. Shareholders’ funds rose 8% to £614m. Chief executive Chris Oglesby said: “At Bruntwood we are relentless in our passion to support our customers and to work closely with our civic and academic partners to help them grow by unlocking economic opportunities through the development of their property assets.
“In a year where the UK saw a sharp fall in inward investment as a result of the uncertainty over Brexit, we invested a record amount in creating places for businesses to thrive, reflecting our belief in the underlying strength and potential of great cities like Birmingham Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester.
“While we invest for the long-term, and never judge our performance in the context of a single year’s figures, these are strong results following a record year where our profits were buoyed by a number of one-off exceptional items.”
The company was appointed as 25% shareholder in Sciontec Liverpool, alongside partners – Liverpool City Council, the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University.
Bruntwood also continued its work on sustainability as part of its commitment to be net zero carbon by 2030, by signing up to the Better Buildings Partnership’s new Climate Change Commitment; which aims to improve the sustainability of existing commercial building stock.
Chris Oglesby added: “The cities in the North and Midlands are still growing and have proved to be very resilient as a result of the strong progress they have made in recent years and this gives us confidence for the future.
“We are seeing businesses demand far more from their workspaces and the wider place making offer in our cities; to help them attract and retain the best talent.”