Our investment strategy

We create shareholder and social value by providing the right space for our customers and communities so that people and businesses can thrive.

How our strategy is shaped
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Creating sustainable shareholder value

We make choices at asset, sector and portfolio level to optimise short-term and long-term value and position ourselves to achieve attractive total shareholder returns over the long term. We aim to generate growth in earnings per share so we can pay a progressive dividend.

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Capital allocation and risk taking 

Our key activities throughout an asset’s life-cycle are: buy, develop, manage, sell. We regularly review the outlook and opportunities for our portfolio of assets and our markets, and adjust our portfolio accordingly, using a consistent framework to make plans specific to each asset and market sector.

Investing through the life-cycle

Market sectors

For many years, we managed our business through two business units – London Portfolio and Retail Portfolio. Early in the financial year, we merged these, combining their finance, development and operational teams. We now have one team, supporting one portfolio divided into three segments: Office, Retail and Specialist. The market drivers we have identified, and the strategy we have adopted, affect all areas of our business. Operating as one business unit, we further increase the efficiency of our capital allocation, and our ability to share data and respond to changing market conditions and trends.

Our Office segment represents 53% of the portfolio by capital value. It consists of prime, modern office space with good lease lengths and strong occupiers. Our office space ranges from traditional HQ space through to flexible office space that meets the growing demand for flexibility and service. In addition, we have office developments that provide valuable exposure to a London office market, which has further growth prospects over the longer term.

Our Retail segment represents 34% of the portfolio and consists of the retail space within our offices, London shopping centres, regional shopping centres, outlet centres and retail parks. One of the challenges with retail assets is the risk of having too much space for current demand. Our shopping centres in major UK cities present significant development opportunities as we consider how we can add different uses, particularly residential, to the sites. Our outlet centres have proven relatively resilient to the recent trends in retail, and offer further opportunities for us to manage and invest in the assets.

Our Specialist segment represents 13% of the portfolio and consists primarily of our leisure and hotel assets, plus Piccadilly Lights.

Locations

We buy and develop in thriving locations or places with excellent potential. First-class buildings with good transport links are becoming more highly valued than fashionable postcodes. Increasingly, our business focuses on London and other major urban centres supported by long-term trends.

Development exposure

We develop adaptable, sustainable, customer focused spaces, as these generate returns and portfolio income growth above that available from standing investments alone. Our current pipeline of development opportunities comprises offices, and retail assets where we have the potential to re-purpose the space. 

Timing

We will develop on a pre-let basis at any time in the property cycle. However, we commit to developing speculatively only when we believe we will be completing and leasing the development into a market with strong demand, and therefore when the balance of risk and return is in our favour.

Risk 

We believe the best way to mitigate the risks inherent in owning and operating a commercial property portfolio is to:

— identify assets in structurally supported markets that have strong and enduring appeal to customers and consumers

— manage spaces and places actively and responsibly

— act early in mitigating risks related to changes in climate, legislation, available resources and the changing needs of our customers.

Development is riskier than owning and managing existing assets, but offers the potential for greater returns. We manage development risk through strong operational capabilities and processes, ensuring we make any speculative development at the right time in the cycle. We set carefully calculated limits on the amount of development we undertake at any given time, to manage the risk in our portfolio.

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Customer-led provision of space where people and businesses thrive

We aspire to be the market leader in providing space for customers and communities. We do this by aiming to understand their needs and aspirations, and creating the best experiences for them. In response to changes in demographics, the ways people work, shop and live, and the ever-growing importance of sustainability, we shape our buildings around the needs of our customers. We are incorporating services and technology into our developments to create flexible and adaptable workspaces. In retail, we continue to refine our assets, to provide the best experience for our customers.

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Competitive costs, industry-leading capabilities and relationships, and leader in sustainability

We secure capital and construction costs at competitive rates. This enables us to access and address development and investment opportunities in competitive property markets. Also, by maintaining a disciplined approach to ongoing operating costs, we optimise value to occupiers and the net income generated from market-determined gross rents.

We use debt to enhance equity returns and lower our cost of capital. The scale and security of our portfolio and conservative balance sheet allow us to access debt capital at attractive rates – our weighted average cost of net debt is currently 2.4%. Scale also helps our efficiency by spreading our overheads and the investments we make in capabilities, systems and relationships, across a broad portfolio of assets.

Our capabilities, reputation and relationships with customers, communities, employees and partners are critical to us successfully executing our strategy. We look to attract, develop and retain the best talent in the UK property sector,

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