Profits soar by 62% at region’s leading property firm

Chris Oglesby

Manchester property firm Bruntwood has delivered record profits following a year of investment.

Profit before tax in the year ending September 2018 increased 62% to £116m.

Assets under management increased from £1.09bn in 2017 to £1.27bn and shareholder’s funds rose to £570m from £513m in 2017.

Borrowing as a proportion of value was reduced to less than 45%.

And the firm is confident that the regional markets it operates in will be resilient enough to withstand the “stormy waters” that may emerge in the months ahead

Chief Executive Chris Oglesby said: “Brexit is, of course, a huge challenge for our economy, but by working with our civic and academic partners towards a common goal of creating the environments where businesses – particularly in globally-facing sectors such as science and technology – can prosper, we will play our part in meeting this challenge.”

Bruntwood owns more than 100 buildings across the North and Midlands which are home to more than 3,000 companies.

During 2018, £19.3m was invested in capital improvements and refurbishments, up from £17.3m in 2017.  A further £49m was invested in developments.

In one of the biggest strategic moves of its 42-year history, Bruntwood launched Bruntwood SciTech in October 2018.

A 50-50 joint venture with Legal and General, it is the UK’s largest property platform dedicated to driving the growth of the science and technology sector in regional cities.

As a result the portfolio is set to expand to over six million sq ft with a valuation of over £2.5bn.

Further changes include the launch of Bruntwood Works, covering its core office portfolio, delivering everything from individual co-working desks and meeting rooms to global headquarters.

The Union building opened in September 2018 in city centre Manchester. Barclays Eagle Lab took the first two floors, incorporating a brand-new café, an 80-seat auditorium, co-working and breakout space at street level and a combination of private offices, meeting rooms and breakout spaces on the first floor.

In March, Bruntwood acquired the 113,000 sq ft Innovation Birmingham Campus.

Home to three buildings – iCentrum, Universities Centre and Faraday Wharf, the campus and its community of 170 tech companies is at the centre of Bruntwood SciTech’s plans for the development and growth of additional science and technology space in the West Midlands.

Elsewhere in Birmingham, Cornerblock was relaunched following a £14m refurbishment and is fully let.

April saw the launch of the Tech Incubator at Platform in Leeds and in May the Manchester Tech Incubator, managed by Manchester Science Partnerships, was officially opened.

Designed to support entrepreneurs and early phase data science and digital technology innovation companies it was 90% let within six months of launch and is now home to some of the North West’s most innovative and disruptive tech businesses including Ai Patient, Blockrocket and Wakelet.

The year also saw MSP’s Citylabs 2.0 development 100& pre-let to molecular diagnostics company Qiagen.

Due for completion in 2020, the £60m expanded Citylabs campus will become a genomics campus for innovation, translational science, precision medicine and molecular diagnostics.

The extension to the campus will also see a continued operational joint venture partnership between MSP and MFT.

Bruntwood will provide a range of services including planning and construction advice and design services.

Bruntwood, together with the Oglesby Charitable Trust, donated  £4.6m, to local charities and initiatives spanning the environment, arts, medical research, education and tackling social inequalities

Chris said: “We are fully focused on our purpose of creating thriving cities and by continuing to invest in our customers, colleagues and communities, despite the macro-economic picture and the uncertainty Brexit will bring, we can be confident of further growth.

“Our regional cities are thriving and demand for our product and services remains strong, with a good pipeline of deal transactions and opportunities.”