Customer-focused strategy delivers for Bruntwood

Chris Oglesby
X The Business Desk

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The chief executive of Manchester-based regional property group Bruntwood says its “customer-focused strategy” has paid off as profits rose 5% to £71.6m and revenue grew 11% to £131.5m.

That was Chris Oglesby’s assessment after the company, which owns more than 100 buildings with 3,000 companies operating in its spaces across Manchester and Cheshire, Birmingham, Leeds and Liverpool, filed is accounts for the year to the end of September, 2017.

Bruntwood’s net assets increased 14% to £538m, up from £473m in 2016, while property valuations increased by £54.2m, up 5%, to £1.107bn.

Bruntwood Group also underlined its long-standing commitment to making a difference to the communities it operates in, with £4.8m donated to local charities and community initiatives, an increase of £1.3m on the 2016 total.

Good causes spanning the environment, the arts, medical research, education and tackling social inequality were supported.

Commenting on “another successful year” Bruntwood, Oglesby said the financial results were “clear evidence of our customer -focused business model creating value through development and asset management, which in turn has led to an increase in occupancy of our buildings”.

During the year the group, which employs 650 people, invested £17m in office refurbishments and capital improvements and £93.2m in development schemes, including at Alderley Park in Cheshire and Circle Square, its £750m joint venture with Select Property Group.

A successful year of new business wins and increasing occupancy levels across all core markets saw 890,000sq ft of leasing transactions.

The year also saw the completion of a number of significant regional projects, including Neo in Manchester, Cornerblock in the heart of Birmingham’s central business district, and Platform in Leeds, which occupies a prime location above the city’s railway station.

Bruntwood also completed the 70,000sq ft Bright Building at Manchester Science Park for its subsidiary Manchester Science Partnerships.

Launched alongside the Bright Building in September, 2017 was Mi-IDEA (Manchester Inspired Innovation Digital Enterprise Alliance), a post-accelerator programme and co-innovation ecosystem delivered by MSP and Cisco, supporting SMEs working in digital health, the Internet of Things and Smart Cities.

In Manchester and Leeds the group was also successful in winning Government funding to launch new tech hubs, which will support start-ups in the digital economy.

Reflecting the broadening nature of Alderley Park, Bruntwood’s international life sciences campus in Cheshire, 2017 saw the launch of two pioneering national initiatives, the Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) and the Anti-Microbial Resistance Centre (AMRC).

Since the year end a deal has been struck with Cancer Research UK for them to relocate its Manchester Institute to Alderley Park after a huge fire last April at the Institute’s long-standing home, the Paterson Building in Manchester.

Oglesby said: “Our business is set against a backdrop of change and uncertainty in the wider world. We are witnessing unprecedented levels of disruption in many areas of life driven by rapid technological and digital developments.

“While the property sector is traditionally slow to change, Bruntwood has always sought to disrupt the market through innovation of our customer proposition. We continue to be restless, developing new models that continue to shape markets, meet the demands of the new growth sectors and the new patterns of living and working and are aligned to the strategies of our cities.”

Bruntwood is a member of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, an influential group of Northern civic and business leaders, and a supporter of the Midlands Engine strategy.

Oglesby went on: “I was pleased to see the Chancellor reinforcing the importance of the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine in the Autumn Budget. The economic rationale that underpins the concepts is undeniable.

“It is also pleasing to see the recognition of the value of further devolution, something we see as critical in rebalancing the country’s economy. We will continue to support these initiatives and play our unique role in making these great city regions greater.”

And he added: “Looking forward, the group is well-placed, with a strong balance sheet, a successful business model, an evolving product mix aligned to the needs of its customers, a portfolio which is both geographically strong and increasingly focussed on the growth sectors of tomorrow.

“We have a good pipeline of acquisitions and partnerships across our four core city regions and see 2018 as another year of strong growth.”