24 June 2021

The Crown Estate announces £269.3 million net revenue profit for 2020/21

The Crown Estate has today (24 June 2021) announced a net revenue profit of £269.3 million for the financial year 2020/21.

Results summary

  • Net revenue profit: £269.3 million, representing a decrease of 21.9% on previous financial year.
  • Total return performance: 12-month total return is 11.9%, outperforming annual bespoke benchmark of -2.9%. This year’s performance is supported by the impact of recent Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4. If this is excluded, the 12-month total return would have been -3.2%, 0.3 percentage points below the annual bespoke benchmark.
  • Value: The value of the portfolio increased by 7.5% to £14.4 billion. This is driven by two main factors: an increase in the Marine portfolio of £2.1 billion primarily as a result of valuing Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 for the first time. This is offset by a decrease of £1.1 billion in capital values, predominantly as a result of the performance of retail assets in London and Regional portfolios as the pandemic accelerated trends in those markets.
  • Supporting customers: The Crown Estate offered a total of £53.7 million of targeted financial support across its London and Regional portfolios customers for whom this help could make the greatest difference. This included revised payment frequencies, rent deferrals and a subsequent package of rent-free periods. As a result, cash collections for the year were at 81%, significantly lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Dan Labbad, Chief Executive of The Crown Estate said:

“Whilst the challenges posed by the pandemic and associated economic impacts are clear to see in our results, drawing on a diverse portfolio we have continued to demonstrate both our strength and resilience, contributing £3 billion to the public purse over the last ten years and building a portfolio valued at over £14 billion.

“What the pandemic has thrown into sharp relief is that challenge and uncertainty are the new normal and there is no doubt we will face another difficult year ahead, but with the progress of the vaccination programme and our collective resilience as a society, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic.

“Looking ahead, we know that the same things that have underpinned our past success are not the same things that will secure a sustainable future. Informed by our purpose to create lasting and shared prosperity for the nation, we have set out an ambitious new strategy designed to set us – and our customers – on a path to long-term growth in the broadest sense. This will see us continue our commercial success while using our impact to create a more sustainable and inclusive society.”

Responding to COVID-19

In common with many organisations, three national lockdowns and varying local restrictions as a result of the pandemic have had a significant impact on many of The Crown Estate’s customers, and a bearing on financial results.

Net revenue profit of £269.3 million is £75.7 million lower than last year.

The decline has largely been driven by lower rental collection and necessary case-by-case support agreed to assist customers through the pandemic. Many businesses have significantly more debt on their balance sheets than at the start of the pandemic, and The Crown Estate believes further business distress, failures and CVAs can be expected as support schemes come to an end.

Creating lasting and shared prosperity for the nation

Last year, The Crown Estate embarked upon a deep review of its purpose, strategy and operating model to shape its response to the longer-term trends impacting the business. In the year ahead, it will continue to set out its new strategy designed to help its customers succeed, and deliver against a purpose to create lasting and shared prosperity for the nation.

The new strategy builds on The Crown Estate’s unique attributes and will see the business change the way it operates to drive sustainable financial returns to Treasury by focusing its impact in three key areas:

  • Being a leader in supporting the UK towards a net zero carbon future
  • Helping to create thriving communities and renewing urban centres in London and across the UK
  • Taking a leading role in stewarding the UK’s natural environment and biodiversity

To enable this, the business is being restructured to operate as a single Group, comprising four Strategic Business Units: London, Regional, Marine and Windsor & Rural. This also involves a broader restructure across the business to improve ways of working and bring in new skills and capabilities, including an investment in digital.

Towards Net Zero

In December 2020, The Crown Estate set out its commitment to become a net zero business by aligning to the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Climate Agreement, with a target to become a net zero carbon business by 2030, and climate positive thereafter.

Alongside decarbonising its property portfolio and looking at how it can better use its extensive land interests, it is also seeking solutions to restore the natural world by providing and protecting habitats. This will cover its role both on and offshore. 

Portfolio updates:

Marine

Despite initial challenges to customers across several parts of the portfolio, markets across Marine performed strongly resulting in 12% increase in revenues over the year.

  • World leading offshore wind market: In 2021, we concluded the competitive tender process of Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4, identifying six potential new offshore wind projects in England and Wales. These projects (which are now progressing to an environmental assessment known as Plan-Level HRA) could deliver a further 8 GW of offshore wind power. Round 4 projects, together with planned leasing from Crown Estate Scotland, build on the UK’s existing, world-leading, offshore wind pipeline of 41.4GW, and could help take the total to nearly 60GW.
  • Capital value: Round 4 projects achieved record investment from developers and a major vote of confidence in the UK’s green economy, with successful bidders committing an initial investment of £879 million in option fee deposits. Reflecting this, valuation of our Marine Portfolio has risen to £4.1 billion (an increase of £2.1 billion).  Income from Round 4 option fees will not be realised on our balance sheet until after the conclusion of the environmental assessment stage (known as Plan-Level HRA), with rights expected to be awarded in 2022.
  • Investment in evidence: The Offshore Wind Evidence and Change programme, launched in December 2020 in partnership with the UK Government and 26 member organisations, will help ensure the growth of offshore wind needed to deliver net zero emissions by 2050 can be delivered in an environmentally sustainable way.

London

  • Central London’s performance has been severely impacted by COVID-19, particularly among retail, dining and leisure customers. Average annual footfall on Regent Street was down approx. 75% on the previous year, and rent collection for the year has fallen to 85% including concessions granted.
  • Capital value. The capital value of the London portfolio has decreased from £8.4 billion to £7.7 billion, largely as a result of retail values falling across the market. The void rate for the portfolio has increased from 4.7% to 8.2% in line with the market.
  • New customers. In spite of the challenging market, 44 new customers were welcomed across all sectors, leasing almost 98,000 sq ft of space, although this is down 36% on last year. The business has also attracted a range of pop-ups and secured a number of lease renewals across the portfolio.

Regional

  • Ongoing structure change in the retail sector has been accelerated by COVID-19 and rent collection across The Crown Estate’s Regional portfolio has fallen to 72% including concessions granted.
  • Valuation decline. The last year has also seen a valuation decline across the portfolio, with net revaluation losses of £335.7 million to £2.3 billion (11.1% decline on March 2020). At -14.8%, the portfolio has underperformed against its bespoke benchmark of -10.1%, largely due to a relatively high weighting to fashion retailers.
  • New customers. Across our portfolio, 28 new customers were welcomed and signed 46 new leases. New customers have included Frasers at Rushden Lakes at Northamptonshire and M&S and Natuzzi at Aintree Shopping Centre in Liverpool and Furniture Village at Fosse Park, Leicester.
  • Fosse Park – At Fosse Park we completed the development of Fosse Park West, a 130,000sqft extension to the Park anchored by Next and Frasers, along with a new food court, Food Central. Fosse Park West is 80% let whilst Food Central is 91% let or in solicitors’ hands.

Windsor & Rural

  • The Crown Estate, has been remembering His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, who was Ranger of The Great Park for nearly 70 years. His contribution and influence across Windsor, along with his commitment to the natural environment, will be greatly missed.
  • Financial performance. The Windsor property portfolio has seen increased demand for residential properties on the Estate driven by a rise in people looking for non-urban living during the pandemic. However, the opening and closing of visitor facilities in line with changing government guidance, alongside a drop in forestry income, meant revenue profit for the year fell to £2.4 million (£3.2 million in 2019/20).
  • Visitor facilities. The refurbishment of the Virginia Water Pavilion was undertaken during the year and the construction of a new children’s adventure play area is underway, expected to be open by summer 2022.
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