18 September 2020

The Crown Estate announces £345.0 million net revenue profit for 2019/20

The Crown Estate has today (18 September 2020) announced a net revenue profit of £345.0 million for the financial year 2019/20, representing growth of 0.4% against 2018/19 net revenue profit of £343.5 million.

Results summary:

  • Total return outperformance: Overall performance was ahead of the market with an annual total return of 1.4% against a bespoke benchmark of 0.5%, delivering the business’s 12th year of consecutive outperformance. Total return outperformance on a three year rolling basis was 8% against a bespoke benchmark of 3.9%. These results for 2019/20 have been driven primarily by disposals and re-gears in the Central London portfolio and continued growth in fully operational offshore wind farms.
  • Net revenue profit growth: £345.0 million, representing a growth of 0.4% and an average growth on a three-year rolling basis of 2.9%.
  • Value: The value of the portfolio decreased by 1.2% to £13.4 billion. This is mostly as a result of a revaluation loss of £552.5 million or 17.0% in the Regional portfolio, reflecting the challenging retail market. Capital value is £14.1bn, down by 1.8% from 2018/19.

Dan Labbad, Chief Executive of The Crown Estate said:

“Over the 2019/20 financial year, many of our real estate markets were already facing long term structural challenges, which have now been accelerated as a result of COVID-19. Against this backdrop, and the ongoing economic uncertainty, we have delivered a result for the year which reflects the underlying strength of our portfolio and the active approach of our team.

“Nonetheless, as we look ahead we are under no illusions about the challenges we face. Whilst it is too early to accurately forecast our performance for next year, we do expect our net revenue profit and property valuations to be significantly down. However, our resilient structure, established to operate in perpetuity and with no debt, coupled with our diverse portfolio, provides us with the means to navigate this current crisis, while continuing to invest for the long term.

“Before COVID-19, we began a deep review of our purpose and strategy to understand how we can actively embrace technology and respond to longer term issues like climate change, as well as immediate portfolio challenges such as the future of physical retail. This work is now more important than ever and fundamental to ensuring we are well positioned to create value in the broadest sense for our customers, partners and the nation for many years to come.”

Responding to COVID-19

The Crown Estate has sought to establish a fair and balanced approach to supporting customers that is sustainable through an extended period of disruption. It has focused resources on supporting those businesses where its help can make the greatest difference, for example smaller, independent businesses who are facing particular challenges at the moment.

The current economic and market disruption has led The Crown Estate to take the precaution, with the agreement of the Treasury, of implementing a staged process for the payment of the whole of its net revenue profit for the year 2019/20. As it cannot draw on its capital account to cover operating expenses, this step has been taken to ensure that it has sufficient revenue reserves given the current reduction in rental receipts. Of the £345.0 million net revenue profit, a first payment of £87.0 million was made to the Treasury on 21 July 2020, with further payments to follow as trading conditions develop.

Portfolio update:

Energy, Minerals and Infrastructure (EMI):

  • EMI valuation: As manager of the seabed and half the foreshore around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the EMI portfolio includes offshore energy, marine aggregates and cables and pipelines. The portfolio’s value increased by 8% to £1.96 billion over 2019/20, largely as a result of the growth in offshore wind.
  • Offshore wind generating capacity for the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland increased by 1.6GW taking the UK to a total of 9.3GW, with a further 20.7GW of potential projects in the pipeline at 31 March 2020.
  • Future offshore wind pipeline:
    • In August 2019, the plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) for extensions to existing offshore wind farms concluded, with seven of the application projects, representing a total generating capacity of 2.9GW, progressing to the award of development rights.
    • In September 2019, Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 was launched, one of the largest seabed leasing programmes in the world, with the opportunity to deliver at least 7GW of capacity. This leasing programme will be a crucial step in realising the Government’s ambitions to deliver 40GW by 2030 and the UK’s transition to net zero emissions by 2050.
    • In August 2020, the first floating wind demonstration project in Wales was awarded seabed rights.

Central London

  • Performance: The Central London portfolio’s performance was primarily driven by strong asset management, resilient asset prices, disposals totalling £256.7 million and a number of large lease negotiations.
  • Occupancy: 96 new customers welcomed to Regent Street and St James’s, with leasing totalling 152,319 sq ft of space over the 2019/20 financial year. The void rate was down to 4.7% from 5.5% in 2018/19. More recently, in August 2020, BIKE-DROP, a new pop-up concept offering convenient, safe and secure bike parking, opened its first two locations in the West End; and in September, the arts charity, The Koppel Project, signed a short term let for a pop-up studio in Piccadilly.

Regional

  • Performance: The Regional portfolio was subject to a revaluation loss of £552.5 million in the 12 months to 31 March 2020, as yields moved out across retail and shopping centres, alongside falling rental values.
  • Retail occupancy: Despite challenging market conditions, active management of the portfolio helped to keep the void rate low at only 3.5% for the year ending 31 March 2020.
  • Fosse Park, Leicester: The £160 million developments of Fosse Park West and Food Central will add 163,000 sq ft of new space to the existing shopping centre and are set to open in 2021. In August 2020, it was announced that three more brands will be opening at the new development, including The Perfume Shop, Soho Coffee and Costa Coffee. This follows on from the news that Frasers Group will be taking a new 30,000 sq ft unit.

Rural (part of the Regional portfolio)

  • Strategic land: Planning consent for two schemes was obtained in Kingskerswell, Devon and on the edge of Knutsford in Cheshire. Planning applications were submitted for a total of approximately 600 homes, including a scheme at Axminster in Devon which comprises 441 dwellings and a local centre which will form the heart of a new urban extension for the town.

Windsor

  • Over 2019/20, the visitor business at the Windsor Estate had been strong with more than 4.5 million people enjoying the park and its surrounds during the course of the year. This, together with income from filming and events, as well as the Estate’s property portfolio, generated a revenue profit of £3.2 million.
  • Windsor Great Park has remained open throughout the pandemic and has played a vital role in providing green space for the local community. Its visitor attractions are now also open with social distancing measures in place.
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2020 Annual Report

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