Commercial Property News

Our magazines are published bi-monthly with in-depth features and news for the commercial property industry. On this page we have the latest news to keep you constantly updated on the market. On the left hand side of the page you can search our archived news which is stored monthly.

Friday, March 31, 2024

North Midland Construction reports pre-tax profit increase

North Midland Construction plc reported full year pre-tax profit rose to £3.945m from £3.278m a year earlier on an increase in sales to £153.1m from £106.4m.

Revenues at its civil engineering division rose to £54m and profitability exceeded budget, it said. Highways experienced difficult trading with a "debilitating drop" in revenue during the summer, due to a lack of tendering opportunities.

The company said it is proposing a final dividend of 5.0p a share, up from 4.0p a year earlier, resulting in a total annual payout of 7.0p, up from 6.0p. The company said all divisions of the group traded profitably, with the building subsidiary returning to former levels of profitability.

Banks Developments in £25m residential development at Ravenscraig

Banks Developments, the Lanarkshire-based property developer, has been given the green light by North Lanarkshire Council to commence the first residential development at the Southern Gateway to the former Ravenscraig Steelworks site.

Etna, a 17 acre former industrial site which has lain derelict for more than 20 years since the demise of the steelworks in Motherwell, will be transformed into a modern urban development of contemporary apartments and family homes.

The £25 million residential scheme planned on derelict land off Craigneuk Street, Motherwell, will be one of the first developments benefiting from the massive investment made in Ravenscraig, accessed off its Southern Gateway Roundabout.

The scheme, which proposes 164 new homes reinforces Banks' on-going commitment to delivering major land regeneration in the area. The proposals include extensive remediation of the land and the construction of a mix of contemporary two bedroom apartments and three, four and five bedroom homes.

Since the industry's demise, the redundant land has been a target for fly tippers and other anti-social activities, however the proposed plans will create a safe community for residents with local amenities including access to Shieldmuir train station, the creation of public realm areas, new footpaths and cycle ways.

Colin Anderson, Scottish director of Banks Developments, said: "This is an exciting time for the communities surrounding Ravenscraig, which have suffered through many years of industrial decline, but can now see a brighter future."

Thursday, March 30, 2024

Barratt Homes 'iPad' targets first time buyers

First timebuyers are being targeted with new mini-apartments by Barratt Homes. The 'Barratt iPad' is just 380 sq ft - 25 per cent smaller than an average 500 sq ft one-bedroom flat, but larger than a studio apartment.

The one-bedroom version, which includes a small lounge, dining area, fully fitted kitchen, double bedroom, fully fitted bathroom and balcony, will sell for between £80,000 and £120,000. This is below the new £125,000 threshold at which buyers must pay stamp duty.

Barratt has spent 18 months developing the concept and has already pre-sold its first 30 iPad homes in Middlesbrough. A further 170 iPads are being built on six sites in areas including Sheffield and Hull, while another 1,600 are in the pipeline for locations throughout the UK.

David Pretty, chief executive of Barratt, said that the starter homes would provide a great 'crash pad' for first-time buyers as well as older single people or couples.

More than 20 years ago Barratt launched the Studio Solo brand - studio apartments of just 280 sq ft to 300 sq ft, but Mr Pretty insisted that the new iPads are bigger and better and suitable for couples as well as single occupiers.

Barratt hopes to increase production of the iPads in future to at least 1,000 a year, generating about £100 million in revenue at an average selling price of £100,000.

Barratt said it had already secured 90 per cent of its full-year homes target after agreeing £910 million of advance sales, its second-highest figure on record for this time of year. Mr Pretty said that improvements in market conditions seen last autumn had continued into the new year.

Overall, the company said that it was on track to deliver a fourteenth consecutive year of growth, after revenues edged up 2 per cent to £1.17 billion and underlying pre-tax profits rose by 4 per cent from £157.1 million to £163.9 million in the half-year to December 31.

£50m housing project to transform Aberdeen paper mill.

An old paper mill in Aberdeen is to be transformed into an urban village of 365 affordable homes. The 25-acre site has now been bought by the Devanha Housing Partnership, a group of Grampian-based housing associations, with support from Communities Scotland, the Scottish Executive's housing and regeneration agency.

The Donside mill, which is to undergo a £50m development, was once one of Aberdeen's biggest employers but it closed five years ago with multi million pound debts. Sandy Murray, chief executive of Tenants First Housing Co-operative, said "At £50m, this is a massive investment in the local economy."

Malcolm Chisholm, communities minister, added "Securing such a large and important site for affordable housing is great news. There's certainly a shortage of such sites in Aberdeen and this will also help boost regeneration efforts in Tillydrone and across the city."

MSP's green light for Edinburgh tram loop.

MSPs have agreed in principle to the building of a second tram line which would loop through Edinburgh. The final part of the route, linking Princes Street, the Leith-Granton shoreline and Haymarket, was agreed by 84 votes to 17 yesterday.

The move follows a bill to build a tram line from the city centre to Edinburgh Airport which was passed last week. The final go-ahead for the project will depend on an Edinburgh City Council decision later this year. Tram Line Two serving the airport has already been approved.

Click on picture for larger image

Tavish Scott, transport minister, warned MSPs there was no guarantee the executive would find more than the £375m already pledged for the system, even though fast-rising costs for English tram lines have led to several projects being stopped.

In January, Edinburgh Council proposed a phased approach to merge parts of both lines. Leith would be connected to Granton and the airport line extended to Newbridge at a later date.

The council's project promoters, Tie (Transport Initiatives Edinburgh) said the projected cost of the full scheme is between £634m and £714m. Four companies will now be tendering for the contract to design, manufacture and maintain the tram vehicles.

HelioSlough secures funding for biggest ever speculative distribution facility in South Yorkshire

HelioSlough has secured funding for its 750,000 sq ft distribution faciltiy at Nimbus Park, Thorne, near Doncaster. CB Richard Ellis Investors will pay more than £42m towards the development of the warehouse.

Mike Hughes, director at HelioSlough said: "We are pleased to have secured funding for our speculative building at Nimbus Park. The site is well-connected with a dedicated rail connection to the East Coast Mainline at Doncaster providing that all-important access to the East Coast ports. This, and the growing requirement of occupiers for this type of product, has been very important in securing the funding."

The warehouse is expected to complete in November 2006 and HelioSlough expects to begin the second phase of 200,000 sq ft at the 50 acre park later this year. King Sturge acted for HelioSlough and M3 represented CBRE Investors.

White Young Green acquires Tweeds

White Young Green plc has announced the acquisition of Tweeds a quantity surveying, project management and health and safety business employing 150 staff in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Mold and The Isle of Man. The Tweeds business was founded in 1952 and has developed steadily with a mix of public and private sector clients throughout the UK.

This acquisition is an important step within the corporate development strategy at White Young Green to deliver a broader range of complementary services to its clients in the UK and overseas. The acquisition of Tweeds follows that of Denis Rooney Associates in 2004 which already delivers Quantity Surveying and Project Management services in Ireland.

The business will continue to trade in the immediate term under the name of Tweeds but will form part of an enlarged WYG Management Services business with a combined complement of 250 staff. Peter Swift, currently a director of Tweeds becomes the Managing Director of the new Management Services business unit.

John Purvis, Chief Executive commented: "This acquisition is a significant step forward in the ongoing development of WYG. Tweeds is a successful, dynamic and broadly based cost consultancy with an excellent reputation for service delivery and client care. It introduces a key new complementary skill to our current portfolio throughout England and Wales and will therefore significantly enhance our ability to engage much more strategically with clients in the future".

Sub-Lease at the Apex in Tannochside Park

Unit 3A, The Apex in Tannochside Park has been let by Ryden on behalf of Sun Chemical to Walker Precision Engineering Ltd.

Expanding firm Walkers has agreed a 5-year sub-lease of the 5,636 sq ft warehouse property which is set within a secure site. The rent agreed is £28,000 per annum.

Gregor Harvie, surveyor at Ryden commented: "The location was perfect for Walkers in terms of both staff and clients accessing their business, and expansion space was required due to new contracts being secured."

Ryden acted for Sun Chemical; Walkers was represented by HBM Sayers.

Tuesday, March 28, 2024

Construction work starts on Manchester urban water park

Work has now started on Manchester's first urban water park, bringing greenery and water to the heart of the city. Located in New Islington, Manchester's Millennium Community, the 'eco' park, which is nearly four acres in size, is the development's centrepiece.

Landscape architects, Grant Associates and engineers Martin Stockley Associates have incorporated islands, decking, boardwalks and bridges into the design of a boating lake, which is framed by a reed bed. The 'eco' park will also feature a beach, a 'community' orchard - an idea suggested by local residents, follies and an area of public open space containing a range of trees and wildflowers creating a variety of habitats for wildlife.

A mooring 'island' will take up to six narrow boats, and the lake will also offer rowing boat hire, paddling, fishing and picnicking areas. The lake spills out to create canal fingers that lead to New Islington's quayside developments. Situated on the edge of the city centre and with a pedestrian route creating a new link between the Rochdale and Ashton canals, the park's landscape gently slopes down into the new waterway, forming a valley.

Robert Hough, Chairman of New East Manchester Ltd said, "The first municipal park in the world was built in East Manchester so it is fitting that this innovative new park will be located here. This highly imaginative use of open space is designed to be fun, educational and community focused and I'm sure it will bring an enormous amount of enjoyment to local people and visitors alike."

Work on the water park is undertaken by Volker Stevin and the new facility will be open for public use from summer 2007.

The water park is part of New Islington, Manchester's Millennium Community, which in turn is one of English Partnerships' seven Millennium Communities, New Islington is a partnership between national regeneration agency English Partnerships, Urban Splash and New East Manchester Ltd together with appointed social landlord, Manchester Methodist Housing Group.

The 29 acre site, just east of Manchester city centre is being radically transformed to a strategic and ambitious vision created by Will Alsop. A new canal and water park, over 1400 new homes, office space, a school, a health clinic, shops, bars and restaurants are planned to be created, using the world?s best architecture.

VINCI wins the Kincardine bridge contract in Scotland

VINCI Construction Grands Projects, working in a joint venture with Morgan Est, has just won a design-build contract for the Kincardine bridge awarded by The Scottish Executive.

This contract, worth over £100m pounds covers design and construction of a 1,200m incrementally launched bridge over the Forth river estuary and 2-km access roads on either side of the bridge. Work will begin in June 2006 and will last 29 months.

The structure will provide a link between two major arteries to the north and south of the Forth river and will relieve congestion in the town of Kincardine, 40 km northwest of Edinburgh. The project should also satisfy environmental and ecological concerns.

North East Housing Board announces over £200m investment in housing

The North East Housing Board has revealed details of its programme for over £200m of work to revitalise housing in the region over the next two years. Government Ministers have agreed funding for the first year of the two-year £178m programme of large-scale regeneration and housing improvement programmes. They are still considering a further £23m for improving housing in the Tees Valley.

The NEHB advised Ministers how the cash should be spent on the SHIP (Single Housing Investment Pot) programme. Ministers agreed the programme which will help dozens of housing schemes in the North East. The funding will be routed either through local authorities or via the Housing Corporation to Housing Associations and Registered Social Landlords.

The NEHB has been working with local councils over several months to decide how their part of the money, £97m should be split. £36.3 m of this was set aside for getting council houses to a decent standard.

The Government will approve the second year's funding for the local authority money under the SHIP Programme later in 2006. A decision on the extra £23m of cash for Tees Valley, to be spent on renewal in South Bank, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Stockton is expected shortly.

The good news this year is that the money is being given to the councils by the Government in the form of a grant. In past years, they have only been given approval to borrow money for this type of housing activity.

The region received more good news recently with Ministers agreeing NEHB suggestions on who should be given priority under the Government's 'First Time Buyers Initiative'. These are in addition to the priority group of key public sector workers identified nationally.

As the North East is different to regions in the south of England, the NEHB feels that households with an annual income of £25,000 or less should be given priority in certain circumstances, including when people are caring for relatives nearby, moving when their house is to be demolished or finding a home when their relationship splits up.

Last Unit Goes at Central Retail Park, Ayr

Acting on behalf of W G Mitchell, Culverwell has agreed a letting to Floors 2 Go on the last remaining unit at Central Retail Park, Ayr.

The property was acquired on the basis of a new 15 year FRI lease at a commencing rent of £40,000 per annum. The unit extends to approximately 3,085 sq ft.

The retail park is now fully let and the other occupiers include Lidl, Brantano, Salon Services, Indigo Sun, Pets at Home and Dominos Pizza.

Floors 2 Go were advised by Eric Young.

Gladman Acquires Second Major Site in Scotland

Gladman Developments has acquired a 20 acre (8.098 ha) site in Scotland's Central Belt for a speculative development of offices and industrial units. Advised by the Glasgow office of James Barr, Cheshire-based Gladman Developments has paid an undisclosed sum for the Eliburn Campus site in Livingston, close to Junction 3A of the M8. The vendor is Texas Instruments Limited, which was advised by Montagu Evans.

This is Gladman Developments' second deal in this area in the past three months. In January, less than five miles from Eliburn Campus, it acquired a 33.5 acre site at J4 M8 Distribution Park, where it is about to submit a planning application for, at 600,000 sq ft, Scotland's largest speculative industrial and distribution warehousing scheme. Yan Stewart, Director at James Barr also advised on this deal.

At Eliburn Campus, following a master planning phase, Gladman will submit a planning application for a range of speculative office buildings from 2,200 sq ft to 25,000 sq ft and for a number of smaller industrial units of up to 40,000 sq ft, which will be available both on a feuhold and leasehold basis.

The site, which is bounded by the A705, is already allocated for employment purposes and is adjacent to the Chameleon Business Park, which has already been successfully developed out, including a 17,000 sq ft pre-let to Atos Origin. Land to the other side of Gladman's new site has been acquired by Tepnel Scientific Services Ltd for a 14,000 sq ft D&B; project.

Gladman Developments is one of the UK's largest developers of offices and speculative industrial and distribution warehouses with an annual turnover of more than £100 million.

At present it has 6.2 million square feet of speculative distribution and industrial space under construction or in planning, as well as more than 1 million sq ft of speculative office accommodation.

Friday, March 24, 2024

RICS reaction to Budget 2006

RICS has reported that the Chancellor is right to raise the Stamp Duty threshold but the rise is so small (from £120,000 to £125,000) that it represents a squandered opportunity. The RICS is extremely disappointed that the Chancellor has not gone further and raised the threshold to £150,000 as RICS has consistently argued over recent years.

The RICS was also dismayed that the Chancellor has once again not addressed the fundamental structure of Stamp Duty, which distorts prices in the housing market by creating pinch points below the threshold for each band. The RICS believes that the tax should be marginal like other taxes, such as income tax. This would remove the distortions in the market.

The Chancellor has announced increased support for first time buyers via shared equity schemes. However, the support is small and will help less than 1 per cent of all first time buyers.

On Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) the news is better. RICS has welcomed the news in the budget that REITs will be introduced from January 2007. These investment vehicles should help the Government achieve their aim of improving the efficiency of both the commercial and residential property investment markets and open them to individual investors.

The Government has listened to industry concerns regarding restrictions on gearing, effectively doubling the borrowing thresholds. Also, basing the conversion charge at 2 per cent of total gross asset values will mean a lower tax charge than a model based upon capital gains. These welcome amendments should facilitate an easier transition to REIT status for many listed property companies.

The RICS believes that REITs will help facilitate the development of a high quality residential lettings market.

RICS chief economist, Milan Khatri, said: 'Its a mixed budget for property, offering little to first time buyers and very little on the affordability of homes. This budget misses another opportunity to address the problems of stamp duty and provide a fairer and more appropriate system that would truly assist first-time buyers.'

'However, the introduction of REITs does offer the prospect of boosting house building over the medium and long term and we are pleased that the Government has listened to the industry's concerns.'

William Hill take lease at Leed's Commerce House

William Hill has secured 10,300 sq ft of office space at Commerce House in Leeds city centre. The deal, agreed at £15 per sq ft, follows from the letting to Unison and confirms full occupancy in the building which last year underwent an extensive £1.2m redevelopment programme.

Owner, Wade Lane Developments Ltd, which is a joint venture between Landmark Development Projects and St James Securities, has also announced that it has sold the long leasehold interest in the building to Mayfair Estates for a figure in excess of £4.4m.

Wade Lane Developments Ltd acquired Commerce House and two neighbouring buildings, Belgrave House and Warwick House, close to the Merrion centre in 2004. The company is now progressing plans to redevelop Warwick House which was previously occupied by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Highcross buys Westfield North Courtyard, Cumbernauld, for £5.5m

Highcross, advised by Jones Lang LaSalle, has completed the purchase of Westfield North Courtyard, Grays Hill Road, Glasgow for £5.55m reflecting a 7.1% net initial yield.

The multi-let industrial estate, located less than two miles from the Mollinsburn Interchange, comprises 22 units constructed in eight blocks around two courtyard areas. The development totals 150,000 sq ft (13,935 sq m) and tenants include Kent Pharmaceuticals, Laddaw Limited and SAS Holdings.

Highcross plans to make each of the 10 vacant units ready for immediate occupation, and will be applying a flexible approach to lettings at competitive rental rates.

Jones Lang LaSalle represented Highcross while Collingwood Rigby advised the vendor. Jones Lang LaSalle and Graham and Sibbald have been retained as letting agents on behalf of Highcross.

New faces at Ryden in Leeds

Commercial property firm Ryden has appointed Fiona Stoddard MRICS as senior surveyor to bolster the firm's growing Professional group in Leeds. Stoddard joins from Donaldsons where she worked in the development consultancy team.

She has also worked for GVA Grimley and was previously a lecturer in Insurance and Risk Management at Napier University in Edinburgh before retraining.

James Fee joins Ryden as a graduate trainee in the firm's Building Consultancy group. Fee, from Australia, has a BSc (Hons) Construction Management & Economics.

Adam Spencer also joins the Agency & Development group as a graduate trainee. Spencer has spent the last 4 years in Toronto's commercial property scene, getting some work experience after graduating with a postgrad diploma in property and valuation from Sheffield Hallam University, BA Hons History and Theology 2000.

Matthew Edwards, Regional Managing Partner in Leeds, said: "We are pleased to welcome these new staff members to support the growth of Ryden in the North of England."

New Edinburgh HQ for Ashford Property Group

The Edinburgh-based Ashford Property Group has acquired new premises at 43 Melville Street in the capital to facilitate expansion in a deal worth around £1m.

Having refurbished the 3,654 sq ft (339.5 sq m) building, Ashford will occupy the first floor and has let the lower ground and ground floors to Buccleuch Town & Country at circa £18 a sq ft. This leaves the second floor - equating to just under 1,000 sq ft - available at circa £16.50 a sq ft.

Mike Irvine of Montagu Evans, who acquired the building on behalf of Ashford and has been retained as the letting agent, said: "This is one of the best town house offices in Melville Street. By tradition, second floors in these buildings are not always of the best quality but this one is an exception, with good floor to ceiling heights and excellent natural daylight."

Ashford currently has around 50,000 sq ft (4,645 sq m) of office space and around 125 student beds under development in Edinburgh, and current investment deals include acquisitions in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle.

Andrew Smith, group director, said: "Our move to Melville Street will help further raise the profile of the business and allow us to accommodate our plans for additional staff and increasing levels of activity in the market. Towards the end of last year we consolidated our funding facilities with Bank of Ireland Corporate Banking in Edinburgh and this will allow us to aggressively seek new opportunities throughout the UK".

Leyden Kirby Associates win North West Innovation Park contract

Land remediation expert, Leyden Kirby Associates, has won a contract from Miller Construction to treat a Japanese Knotweed infestation at the site of the planned £8m Salford Innovation Park.

The 5,500m² Frederick Road site forms part of Salford's multi-million pound regeneration programme. The Innovation Park initiative is led by Salford City Council, the University of Salford and the Northwest Development Agency.

Leyden Kirby's remediation contract covers an area of 550m² and will take three weeks to complete. The firm's pioneering Japanese Knotweed treatment is estimated to have saved 90% of the cost and time associated with conventional methods, and satisfied stringent Environment Agency requirements.

Building work will begin in April 2006 and is due for completion in May 2007.
The aim of the Innovation Park is to promote Salford's economic development by advising and supporting small local businesses and creating a meeting place for businesses, education providers and community groups.

Wednesday, March 22, 2024

Francké takes chair at Association of Women in Property

Maria Francké, Head of Planning at Drivers Jonas in Scotland, will this week take on the role as Chair of the Association of Women in Property Central Scotland Branch. Maria takes on the mantle from Ann McLean of Yeoman McAllister.

Commenting on her appointment, Maria said:"The Central Scotland Branch is one of the most successful networking forums for women in the property in industry and I aim to build on that success during 2006/2007. We have a packed programme of events designed to help women in the industry with both their career development and with creating a social network of like-minded female professionals."

"Each year, we hold a range of site visits, CPD Seminars and social events that our members and their guests. Uniquely in our industry, Women in Property provides opportunities to meet professionals from all sections of the industry, including clients, consultants, contractors and other members of the supply chain. Last year saw a record of over 1,000 attendances at Central Scotland events."

With membership hitting 1000 senior professionals represented in nine regions the network has strength and depth. The organisation seeks to promote the role of women in a wider business community and to encourage women to take up and develop their careers. Women in Property, has since 1987, maintained a constructive and supportive environment providing members with the industry intelligence and skills they need to facilitate business networking.

Balfour Beattie win £150m Hong Kong contract

Balfour Beatty PLC said Gammon Construction, in which it owns a 50 pct stake, has won a construction contract in Hong Kong valued at £150m

Swire Properties awarded the contract to build a 70-storey, 1.5 million square feet, Grade A office building on the Eastern shore of Hong Kong island.

Balfour chief executive, Ian Tyler, said: 'We are delighted to have been selected to build this major addition to one of Hong Kong's best planned and established business districts.'

Monday, March 20, 2024

Kenmore Homes look to build base in Northern England

Residential development firm, Kenmore Homes, is looking at expanding its presence south of the Border with the opening of a new office covering the north of England.

Project turnover is on target to top the £100 million mark next year as the acquisitive Edinburgh based firm feels the full benefit of its recent west coast purchase. Founder and chief executive Bill Thomson said the group, which already has regional operations in England, was examining options in the north of England.

In Scotland the company's base in direct development has been significantly enhanced following last month's £6m takeover of the Glasgow development and house-building businesses of Hamilton Holdings. The deal will provide Kenmore Homes with an additional £40m project turnover over the next two years.

The firm, both directly and through joint ventures, has more than 1500 plots under contract across the UK.

Bell & Scott advise on Glasgow letting

Specialist commercial property law firm Bell & Scott advised property developer Walker Group on the letting of the remaining five floors at its 200 Broomielaw building in Glasgow's business district to Ace Insurance.

Iain MacDonald, Managing Partner at Bell & Scott, commented: "Bell & Scott has a long-standing relationship with the Walker Group and Broomielaw has been one of their most exciting projects to date providing superb office accommodation in Glasgow's growing financial services district."

"As a result of our extensive property law expertise we were able to advise on all elements of this project from land acquisition, through construction to the final letting phase. It is fantastic news for both the Walker Group and the Broomielaw district that 200 Broomielaw is now fully let."

The Broomielaw district on the banks of the River Clyde has been dubbed the International Financial Services District.

Antler Property Investments buy into Hamilton Business Park

Antler Property Investments has acquired 2 buildings on Hamilton Business Park from Silverbank Development Company Ltd for £7.375 million, reflecting a net initial yield of 6.75%.

The two office buildings - Bothwell House and Waverley House, provide attractive open plan accommodation in a range of sizes from individual suites of 1,000 sq ft up to single floors of 8,000 sq ft.

The buildings are multi-let with a total income receivable of £526,558 secured against a number of excellent covenants, including Scottish Ministers, Forestry Commission, Bellway Homes, and Daks Simpson. Passing rents range from £11.50 - £15.15 per sq ft.

Hamilton Business Park is located approximately 10 miles southeast of Glasgow and is superbly positioned for Scotland's road network and is equally accessible from both Junctions 5 and 6 of the M74 motorway.

King Sturge advised the Second Antler Property Investments, whilst Silverbank Development Company Ltd was represented by Ryden.

Thursday, March 16, 2024

Miller Group profits up 40% for 2005

Miller Group, the privately-owned builder, grew pre-tax profits 40%, to £76m, helped by the £262m acquisition of Fairclough Homes. Chief executive Keith Miller said the company was ready and able to complete another takeover on that scale to maintain growth.

Low interest rates and the stable economy helped the company grow reservations by 35% in the first 10 weeks of this year, and Miller said it was ready to spend to help ensure it makes the most of good conditions for housebuilders.

Targeting sales of 4000 housing units this year, compared with 700 six years ago, Miller is the eighth-biggest housebuilder in the UK. In terms of operating profit margins Miller ranks sixth, proving it can compete with the majors.

Growth in the key housing division helped Miller increase turnover 19% in 2005 to £805m. Average prices rose 6% to £185,000. Operating margins increased from 15% to 16%.

Miller Developments, Miller Group's property development and investment arm, spent 60 million euros (£41.4m) on investments in Europe last year, and is planning to spend 500m euros this year, on top of the £150m planned in the UK.

The operation now has £3.7 billion worth of property investment under its control, and Keith Miller says it could quite justifiably be called Scotland's biggest overseas property investor.

Property development and investment accounted for 16.7 per cent of group turnover and 17.4 per cent of profits last year. In Europe, retail development projects are under way in joint ventures with local companies in Spain, Portugal, Hungary and Denmark.

Bovis profits down but house prices 'modestly' up

Bovis revealed the impact of last year's weak housing market yesterday as it posted a 20 per cent slump in annual profits to £116.1million. It said 2005 was "the most competitive and challenging period the housing market has seen for many years".

Operating margins dipped three per cent to 24 per cent as the group moved towards smaller and cheaper homes. But Bovis said it started 2006 with a strong order book and predicted house prices would increase "modestly", having seen them fall from £197,900 to £175,500 last year.

Operating margins dipped from more than 27 per cent in 2004 to 24 per cent last year as the Kent-based group moved towards smaller and cheaper homes. Total house sales were flat at 2,702, but revenues dipped from £559.5m in 2004 to £521.2m.

Evans Property Group launch 'Business Living' venture

Evans Property Group has launched a new business venture at an exclusive event in MIPIM today.

The Leeds based company is creating a new business within the Group called 'Business Living.' Operating as a trader developer, the subsidiary will acquire land to develop offices for sale and lease and expects to roll out four speculatively built schemes over the next twelve months.

The first scheme comprising a total floor area of 30,000 sq ft will be constructed at Millshaw Park, Leeds where a start on site is expected after Easter.

Iain Robertson, Development Director at Evans Property Group, launched the new venture to a select audience at a breakfast briefing on board White Rose of Drachs at MIPIM this morning.

Typical developments under the Business Living brand will comprise some 30,000 sq ft of two storey offices with unit sizes ranging from 1,300 to 6,100 sq ft.

Business Living will launch four sites this year, including York Business Park, Deeside Industrial Estate near Chester and Follingsby Park, Gateshead.

The company is also close to completing on an acquisition of a site in Doncaster and is actively pursuing the purchase of new sites in the North of England, Scotland and Midlands.

In addition to creating a home-from-home office concept, Business Living will also add value in some locations by incorporating speculative developments of industrial and hybrid units of up to 40,000 sq ft with units ranging from 3,000 to 12,000 sq ft.

Amec confirms plans to split

Amec confirmed plans to split itself in two after a poor performance from its UK construction division depressed full-year results.

The engineering and project management company said it would look to complete the sale of its French arm Spie, before separating its core energy and process management operations from its construction activities.

The announcement came as Amec said underlying profits rose seven per cent to £124.1 million in 2005 on a strong performance of its oil and gas business. But its surplus dipped 58 per cent to £11.2m at its project solutions unit, following weakness in UK construction services, particularly roads.

Profits have risen 25 per cent in its oil and gas division and 18 per cent in its engineering and technical services unit, but a poor performance in Amec's British construction operations have dented some of these gains.

PSL Energy Services take lease at Badentoy

Knight Real Estate Ltd this week concluded a deal to lease a new development in Badentoy Industrial Estate, Aberdeen. The 2.64 acre site is being developed to meet the specific requirements of PSL Energy Services who have signed a 20 year lease for the completed development.

The site will undergo a £3.5m development consisting of a 10,000 sq.ft, two storey office building, 22,700 sq.ft workshop and warehousing and 4,000 sq.ft concrete yard, set in mature landscaping with generous car parking provided. Scope for future growth is also catered for at the site as Knight is adding a third storey to the office building which PSL will be able to lease when required.

The development has been designed by Space Solutions and with planning consents already secured work is due to begin on site this week, with the build due for completion by September 2006.

This is the first of several major developments planned by Knight Real Estate to go to site in 2006. The company has a further £15m developments planned throughout Scotland for the remainder of the year including the completion of Chameleon Business Park in Livingston and Phase 2 of Kirkhill Business Park in Dyce.

Rettie & Co announce strong trading figures.

Edinburgh based estate agent, Rettie & Co, have announced another year of strong trading. The firm posted an annual profit after tax, salary costs and undisclosed dividend payments of almost £110,000.

Rettie & Co are the selling agent for several of Edinburgh's most prestigious developments. These include Britannia Quay next to Ocean Terminal in Leith, St Vincent Place in the New Town and the Quartermile development.

Tuesday, March 14, 2024

Whelan Construction doubles 2006 order book

Whelan Construction Development one of the northeast of England's leading independent construction companies is celebrating having doubled its order book for 2006, 4 years ahead of forecast.

Only 18 months ago, Whelan, a 30-year-old Newcastle based firm, embarked on a strategic growth plan that aimed to double turnover by 2010. Last year the company announced its highest turnover to date of £22m, and by January 06, Whelan had secured orders in excess of £50m to take into 2007.

Tony Whelan, Commercial Director, commented: "There is a real buzz at Whelan right now. We have achieved so much and in a short amount of time, surpassing all expectations. Our succession of recent achievements has given us a lot of assurance. We've got a clear company vision and we're well positioned to grow".

Over 70% of the company's new orders have been achieved by repeat business, with the remaining 30% derived from personal recommendations and new leads. Currently, Whelan are working on 16 projects, including developments for Jennings at Washington, Hanro at Benton and City & Northern at Monkton and South Shields. Joint Ventures add another dimension to the portfolio, including Cathedral Park, Durham with Argon Developments and Belmont Business Park with Helios Developments.

During the last 18 months Whelan has internally invested in excess of £4million to develop the company - improving the firms infrastructure, IT, quality systems, supply chain and staff training - which have all been fundamental to the company's success. Whelan has also enlisted support from industry experts including Dave Stitt a highly respected performance coach to implement the company's development programme.

Commenting on the company's success, Bill Swan, Managing Director at Whelan, said: "Reputation and word-of-mouth recommendation has certainly helped Whelan develop, furthermore, we've been able to back that up with high quality build and delivery. More and more companies are realising our increasing capabilities and our commitment to high quality service. We are a forward thinking company and the future looks very bright".

£75 Million Ayr Central shopping centre opens ahead of schedule

Debenhams, the anchor store at Ayr Central, opens three days ahead of schedule and marks the first phase completion of the £75 million, 32,517 sq m (350,000 sq ft) shopping complex in the heart of Ayr.

This phased opening milestone marks the culmination of almost 6 years of intense development activity by the centre's developers Henry Boot Developments, which has transformed a town-centre brownfield site, which lay derelict for 15 years into one of the UK's most innovative retail developments.

Ayr Central is set to have an immediate impact on the centre of Ayr and indeed the west of Scotland. Once open, it size and tenant mix will, according to CACI, catapult Ayr to fifth strongest retail destination in Scotland, above Braehead, Perth, Falkirk, Stirling, Inverness and East Kilbride.

The new complex will also attract an additional 400 new jobs to the area and increase the weekly number of shoppers in Ayr from 136,000 to over 240,000 and during the summer months this figure is expected to rise to above 300,000 people.

A new concept in retail development, Ayr Central is a hybrid development which utilises the best qualities of out of town retail accommodation but places this within a town centre location with a town centre design. With strong emphasis placed on natural Scottish materials, the striking Caithness slab and red sandstone fronted development houses some of the biggest names in UK retailing.

As well as Debenhams, the 7,900 sq m (85,000 sq ft) anchor store, other new retailers who have signed up to Ayr Central include fashion retailers Next, H&M; and Primark. They will be joined by HMV, Hallmark Cards, Subway and Costa Coffee, which will incorporate water features and retractable walls in the design.

Ayr Central will house 'Taran Square' - the first new open air public space to be created in Ayr for more than 300 years. Beneath the development lies a 495 space single level underground car park.

Monday's first phase opening will kick start a six-month celebration of Ayr Central, which is hoped to bring thousands of visitors during the spring and summer months and contribute to the civic pride of Ayr town centre.

Drivers Jonas Scotland appoint Aileen Gomes as Associate Partner

Drivers Jonas Scotland continue to recruit new talent to the team and have recently appointed Aileen Gomes as Associate Partner in the Building team in Glasgow. Aileen joins Drivers Jonas Scotland from Speirs Gumley.

Aileen has considerable experience in all aspects of Building Surveying and also has excellent knowledge of the local market, making her appointment a valuable asset to the company.

Aileen's remit within Drivers Jonas Scotland will include managing a variety of
private and public sector Building Surveying instructions. One of Aileen's key
responsibilities will be the development and expansion of Drivers Jonas' Building
surveying services throughout Glasgow and Central Scotland.

Alasdair Ramsay, Head of Drivers Jonas in Scotland, said: "We have made a number of senior appointments in recent months as our ultimate aim is to provide clients with the most experienced property consultancy in Scotland - Aileen's appointment serves to underpin this commitment to clients."

Friday, March 10, 2024

New lettings at Moorpark Central in Govan

Ryden has announced the letting of units E, F and G at Moorpark Central in Govan on behalf of Silverbank Development Company Limited to ducting manufacturer CCL Limited.

CCL has agreed a new 15-year lease. The 15,113 sq ft property provides modern warehouse accommodation set within a secure site. CCL was represented in-house; Ryden acted for Silverbank Development Company Limited.

Citigroup takes space at Holyrood Park House, Edinburgh

The New York based financial giant CitiGroup has taken a lease of 23,500sq ft at Holyrood Park House in Edinburgh. It had been mentioned as a possibility for the still empty Waverley Gate but opted for the Grosvenor development close to the Scottish Parliament at a rent of about £500,000.

CBRE and Burness acted for the landlord, Cushman & Wakefield Healey & Baker, and Davidson Chalmers for CitiGroup.

Tuesday, March 07, 2024

FM Group announces record profits

Private housebuilder and developer FM Group has stacked up record full-year results on the back of consistent growth across its various divisions.

The rapidly expanding Edinburgh-based company saw profits leap 29.4% to £6.6 million in the year to August 31, 2005, while turnover soared 60% to £39.2m. Operating profit was up to £9.8m - 66% higher than last year's figure of £5.9m.

FM Group, which is now in its tenth year of business, continues to make its mark with a number of landmark residential buildings either built or under construction in Scotland and the company is now expanding into the north of England with developments in Liverpool and Newcastle. FM is growing overseas with its £500m international expansion strategy in the Caribbean and the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa.

Ryden Lettings buys Dickens Property Management

A leading Edinburgh property management company has been bought up by Ryden Lettings for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition of upmarket Dickins Property Management was announced by Ryden managing director Brian Adair, who said the move was expected to drive up turnover at the top end of the market by 20 per cent.

Louise Dickins, who took over the family business from her mother, Marianne, has been appointed a non-executive director of Ryden Lettings following the deal.

Thursday, March 02, 2024

Thistle Property Group buys £4m Edinburgh office building

Standard Life Investments has sold 116 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, to Thistle Property Group for £4.125 million, reflecting a net initial yield of 6.43%. Upon letting the vacant floor the yield will rise to around 7.5%.

The open plan office building extends to approximately 1,792 square metres (19,290 sq ft) and is currently multi-let with expiry dates of leases ranging from 2007-2013. Tenants include Robins McTear, Momentum Financial Services Limited and BUPA Investments Limited.

The accommodation is let at an average of £15 per square foot and the purchaser is proposing to upgrade elements of the property and let the remaining lower ground floor which is currently vacant.

Colin Finlayson from JLL said: "This is an interesting purchase as it gives Thistle Property Group an active management asset while providing an attractive initial yield. The Group is in a position to take advantage of the under supply of office accommodation in the city centre which is expected to impact on the market during 2006."

Derek Stephen of Thistle Property Group added: "We were attracted to this investment because of its proximity to the city centre and the fact that it offers small, flexible floorplates at an affordable rent with excellent parking provision."

Gavin Willins of CB Richard Ellis commented: "The property became too small for our client's portfolio and they decided sell on the back of the current strength of the occupational and investment markets.

"We received strong interest from investors and residential developers and, ultimately, the building's attributes for providing affordable open plan office space close to the city centre won through."

CB Richard Ellis acted for Standard Life Investments and Jones Lang LaSalle represented Thistle Property Group.

Wilson Bowden sees profits fall 14.2%

Wilson Bowden, whose portfolio includes developments throughout the UK, saw profits fall 14.2% in 2005 to £216.4 million in what it described as "the most challenging housing market for many years".

On the commercial side though, large office building projects helped the Leicester-based builder's Wilson Bowden Developments to a 24.9% rise in operating profits to £41.1m.