Harworth shares fall 20% amid results, CEO news

Shares of Rotherham-based property and land regeneration firm Harworth Group fell almost 20% on Tuesday as it published 2019 results and said CEO Owen Michaelson will retire in December 2020 after 10 years leading the firm. 

The results showed Harworth’s total return fell to 7.8% from 13.3% in 2018.

Harworth said a change in political control at some local authorities following elections in May delayed the determination of some of its planning applications.

Dividend per share rose 10% to 1p.

CEO Michaelson said in his statement: “The group has delivered a total return in 2019 of 7.8% (2018: 13.3%) with EPRA NNNAV of £500.5m at the year-end (2018: £466.5m).

“The in-year result is impressive when considered against the backdrop of the unprecedented political headwinds we faced in 2019 and I am pleased with the way the business adapted to the challenge. 

“The primary impact was the change of political control of some local authorities following elections in May which delayed the determination of a handful of our live planning applications. 

“I am confident that our swift work to amend planning strategies in these cases has prevented any long-term value erosion in each individual project.

“Ultimately the nature of our business means that we must always take a long-term view and our acquisitions, planning and delivery strategy reflects this discipline.

“Despite these headwinds, we had a strong year of sales that demonstrated continued demand for our developments and we made significant progress in growing our portfolio, both in our pipeline of new strategic land sites and increased recurring income from investment property.

“We continue to drive value gains from our underlying land portfolio in the North of England and the Midlands through four principal management actions: preparing and securing planning consents on major schemes; preparing land for redevelopment; delivering sales for future residential and commercial end uses; and actively asset managing our underlying land and property portfolio.”

Harworth chairman Alastair Lyons said: “In large part Harworth owes its existence to Owen. 

“He seized the regeneration potential of the former UK Coal collieries and, in doing so, created a business that is now a leader in its field, transforming former industrial sites and urban edge extensions into new homes and employment areas across the breadth of the North of England and the Midlands.

“Throughout the last 10 years, under Owen’s leadership, Harworth has remained true to its purpose, investing to transform land and property into sustainable places where people want to live and work, and in doing so has created material value for our shareholders and a strong platform from which to grow further.

“He will take with him our every good wish for life after Harworth.”