Bruntwood assets top £1.7bn as SciTech grows

Manchester-based commercial property giant Bruntwood has reported a return to profit in its latest financial year as the total value of its assets rose to more than £1.7 billion.

After suffering a £18.9 million pandemic-induced loss in 2020 the investor and developer saw pre-tax profits return this year with £44.9 million achieved as core rental income and property valuations increased.

Bruntwood SciTech’s portfolio also grew, rising to £669.5 million from £545.7 million in 2020.

Bruntwood SciTech, dedicated to development in the science and technology sector, is a joint venture between Bruntwood and Legal & General.

“The group’s financial position continued to strengthen after the completion of two major funding deals including a new £276m, 15-year sustainability-linked facility with Aviva Investors and the extension of a £240m club with NatWest/HSBC/Barclays/Santander to March 2023,” said Bruntwood.

Bruntwood said its turnover slipped to £122.6 million from £134.4 million “following the outsourcing of its fitout, FM and energy services units and their 300 employees into new standalone businesses – CubicWorks and Unify Management Solutions – outside of the group structure, as well as the absence non-recurring development income reported in 2019 and 2020. “

Bruntwood CEO Chris Oglesby said: “Our ability to attract, retain and grow with our customers owes a huge amount to our unwavering commitment to invest in our offering, even when operating within the challenging economic environment of the past two years.

“The impact of this approach is clear to see in our brilliant financial performance last year.

“In the early days of the pandemic, there was a lot of hyperbolic commentary about the decline of our city centres and their workplaces.

“But in fact, what happened was that businesses and people felt the impact their absence had on the innovation, collaboration and interactions that make our economies successful and our lives richer.”

Among the highlights within the group’s Bruntwood Works office portfolio last year was the completion of a refurbishment at Bloc and 111 Piccadilly in Manchester.

In a major commitment to its growth in Leeds, Bruntwood Works acquired the 14-storey, 90,000 sq ft Castle House, which it will bring together with its existing neighbouring assets at West One and 100 Wellington Street.

Bruntwood’s acquisition of Melbourn Science Park in Cambridge saw Bruntwood SciTech’s network of innovation districts expand into the “Golden Triangle” for the first time — before then being named as development partner for the Begbroke Science Park in Oxford.

The University of Manchester also selected Bruntwood SciTech as its joint venture partner for the development of ID Manchester in a bid to build a new £1.5 billion innovation district in the city, creating over 10,000 new jobs and providing 2.6m sq ft of commercial space over the next 10-15 years.

Oglesby added: “While there may be bumps ahead as the world adjusts to COVID becoming an endemic condition, we have never been more convinced of the vital long-term importance of our cities being able to thrive.

“This is our purpose and we’re doubling down on our commitment to it by ramping up our investment and development activity this year.

“We will expand Bruntwood Works’ Pioneer investment programme and Bruntwood SciTech’s network of innovation districts.”

“And of course, our thriving cities need to be surrounded by a diverse network of thriving towns, so we will also continue to invest in our existing town centre partnerships while exploring new ones.

“And we’ll mark notable progress on our work with two hospital campuses, bolstering their role as community anchors for our towns and cities and their ability to help address health inequalities.”

​”All of this while making further significant strides towards achieving our goal of becoming net zero by 2030.”