Francis Salway – Group Chief Executive
The year saw a dramatic turnaround in the UK commercial property market - falling values in the first six months gave way to rapid recovery in the second half. And as the market moved from downturn to recovery, so did our actions - and we began to position the business for the opportunities we see ahead.
Now our investment properties increased in value by 10.3% and shareholders' net assets grew 16.5% for the full year and as much as 22.3% in the second half. That performance reflects the better environment for commercial property generally but also our management of balance sheet gearing to drive NAV growth.
In London, we were the first company to announce the start of major developments and we’ve got an unrivalled pipeline of potential projects in London. These will be a very attractive source of future value.
In Retail, looking back, our portfolio significantly outperformed the general market last year and that was driven by our success on lettings. Future value creation will continue to come from letting the right units to the right retailers. And that applies to both our investment portfolio and the small number of retail developments we expect to start in the year - with the sound foundations of pre-lettings.
Our actions last year mean we are in a good place. We have a talented management team, a portfolio full of organic opportunity and a balance sheet that enables us to take on new acquisitions.