London leasing boom sees GPE return to profit
Yet more strong numbers from the commercial property sector on Thursday. Major London landlord (GPE) joined its peers British Land and Landsec this week in delivering an upbeat performance for the year.
GPE chief executive Toby Courtauld heralded its “strong year… record lease volumes, well ahead of EVRs… outstanding development returns, profitable disposals and accretive acquisitions” for the 12 months ended 31 March.
The property developer and investment firm saw IFRS profit after tax hitting £167.2 million compared to a year-ago loss of £201.9 million.
Its portfolio valuation grew over 6% in the year, with its retail and office book value increasing nearly 8%. Developments are also up nearly 50%, as the London-centric firm looks to take advantage of the upward swing in the leasing market.
GPE reported a record leasing year for 2021, after unlocking some £38.5 million of new annual rent across London. Boosted by the post-pandemic retail recovery, some 22 deals were signed in the year as workers returned to the capital, equaling 203,700 sq ft, 12.3% above ERV.
But that was the last fiscal year. And the outlook isn’t so upbeat as the prospect of runaway inflation could hit London’s office development appetite. Courtauld talked of weaker sentiment, short-term cost inflation, a further tightening in the planning environment, “impacting the appetite for development risk”.
But what about retail? GPE said: “Whilst we expect macro-economic and geopolitical uncertainties to persist in the near term, dampening growth, the conditions we highlighted at our Interims in November and which had kick-started the post-pandemic recovery in London's economy and its property markets, remain in evidence today.
“London is substantially busier than this time last year with office workers and shoppers returning, Crossrail is about to open, job vacancies are rising and inward investment into income yielding real estate is up.”
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