25 June 2019
The Crown Estate announces another year of income growth with £343.5m returned for the public finances
The Crown Estate, has today (25 June 2019) announced another year of strong financial performance, with £343.5m of income returned to the Treasury for the benefit of public finances, up 4.3% from £329.4m in 2017/18.
Overall performance was ahead of the market, with a total return of 4.9% against the annual bespoke benchmark of 3.1%, delivering the company’s 11th consecutive year of outperformance. The Crown Estate’s outperformance of its bespoke benchmark was driven by the growth of its offshore wind business along with acquisitions and asset management in central London.
Results summary for the year to 31 March 2019
- Record income returned to the Treasury: £343.5m, with returns totalling £2.8bn over ten years.
- Market-beating total return on a three-year rolling basis: 8% against a bespoke benchmark of 5.4%.
- Value: Capital value up 1.7% to £14.3bn, with property value up 2.1% to £13.5bn.
- Capital activity: Totalling £720.3m, including development expenditure of £200.5m and purchases totalling £196.6m, which extended The Crown Estate’s ownership across the West End and embedded future development opportunities.
- Leasing: Over 460,000 sq ft of new lettings across Central London and Regional, to 130 customers, with rental income totalling £20.2m per annum. In Regional, new lettings generated £6.6m in rental income in line with March 2018 ERV, with occupancy across the portfolio remaining above 97%.
- Offshore wind: Operational capacity in offshore wind reached 7.7GW, supplying the electricity needs of 6.6 million homes.
Dame Alison Nimmo DBE, Chief Executive of The Crown Estate said: “I am proud that despite challenging market conditions we have delivered another set of strong results and our 11th consecutive year of outperformance. This long term success has been delivered by a talented team, with a clear purpose and strategy, and a commitment to our chosen sectors where we have been active investors and developers throughout the market cycle. We remain confident that the opportunities we’ve embedded in our portfolio provide a strong foundation for continued outperformance in the coming years.”
Robin Budenberg, Chairman of The Crown Estate said: “The Crown Estate and its skilled team have delivered another year of strong returns to the Treasury and for the nation’s finances. Looking through short-term volatility in our markets, we remain focused on planning for the future to shape a business that creates value for customers in new ways and seizes the opportunities presented by the macro trends that are transforming how people use real estate.”
- Offices: The high quality of assets across the West End and active asset management of the portfolio has helped to deliver another strong year of outperformance in a difficult market. The Central London portfolio completed 36 new lettings across almost 130,000 sq ft of office space.
- Retail: 14 permanent new retailers joined Regent Street and St James’s, enhancing the diverse retail offer of international brands and independents. New retailers included H&M Home, the seventh H&M brand to be on Regent Street, and Sandro Menswear.
- Acquisitions: The Crown Estate, together with its Regent Street partners, Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), invested over £230m in three acquisitions; the headlease acquisition of 30 Warwick Street and 61-65 Conduit Street, and the freehold acquisition of 56-60 Conduit Street.
- Development: 100,000 sq ft of new space was completed in the year. This included The Marq, a 46,000 sq ft office-led development in St James’s, and One Heddon Street, the first dedicated co-working and flexible office space from The Crown Estate. The redevelopment of Princes Arcade in St James’s and Quadrant Arcade on Regent Street created 20 new boutique retail units in the heart of the West End.
- Placemaking: £8m invested to enhance public space across the West End, including the public realm works on Jermyn Street, which has widened pavements and removed street clutter to improve the experience for pedestrians.
- Performance: The Regional portfolio outperformed relative to its benchmark, though had negative capital growth of -7% over the year, reflecting increasingly challenging occupational and investment markets.
- Leasing: In the context of the challenges for the wider market, the Regional portfolio delivered another year of resilient leasing performance, completing 290,000 sq ft of new lettings to 30 customers, generating £6.6m in rental income, in line with March 2018 ERV. The occupancy rate across the portfolio also remains above 97%, reflecting the underlying quality of the assets.
- CVAs: Active management and strong customer relationships have meant that, of the seven retailers and dining operators in the Regional portfolio subject to a CVA during the year, only three units out of a potential 30 were subject to closure.
- Development: Rushden Lakes, the £218m retail and leisure destination in Northamptonshire, nearly doubled in size this year, following the completion of three further phases of development, including the leisure terrace. New brands joining the centre include Cineworld, Rock Up, Paradise Island adventure golf, Barbour and Beaverbrooks. At Fosse Park, Leicester, work commenced on the £168m extension to the centre which will increase the retail and dining offer at the destination by 40%. The space under development is already 50% pre-let to brands including Next, Clarks and TK Maxx.
Energy, Minerals & Infrastructure
- Outperformance: Offshore wind delivered the strongest contribution to the total return outperformance of the portfolio. This was driven by customers achieving project milestones and the continued growth in operational capacity. The world’s largest operational wind farm, the Walney Extension from Ørsted and partners, opened this year with a capacity of 659MW.
- Future Leasing: The Crown Estate has made significant progress on Leasing Round 4 – the first offshore wind leasing round in a decade, which has the potential to deliver 7GW of new offshore wind capacity – working with stakeholders on its plans to make new areas of seabed available to offshore wind developers.
- Infrastructure: The 1000MW Nemo Link electricity interconnector between the UK and Belgium commenced operation this year, and the 1400MW North Sea Link with Norway and the IFA2 interconnector with France both started construction.
Brilliant places for customers and communities
- Employment: The Crown Estate’s ReStart programme has now helped 68 people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness back into employment. The Recruit Regional initiative placed 154 unemployed people into work this year, including at Fosse Park in Leicester and Rushden Lakes in Northamptonshire.
- Waste: Innovative food waste pledge launched in May 2019, bringing together likeminded Central London restaurants to reduce their food wastage by 25% over a 12 month period. New waste management scheme launched and funded for Heddon Street, with The Crown Estate collecting waste by electric vehicle.
- Biodiversity: Windsor Great Park’s long‑term approach to sustainable management was recognised by Natural England with the confirmation that 100% of its Sites of Special Scientific Interest are now in a ‘favourable’ condition, the highest rating achievable.
- Air quality: New air quality innovations trialled in central London include the Vertical Meadow, a temporary living green structure for construction sites; and The Breath, a pollution-absorbing wrap which captures airborne particulates.
- Partnerships: The Crown Estate’s strategic partnership with The Wildlife Trusts continued to grow this year, with new initiatives including ‘Gatekeepers’ at The Gate in Newcastle, a youth engagement programme educating the city’s young people on the importance of biodiversity. Windsor Great Park’s environmental education centre, operated by Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, welcomed 2,500 young people in the year.