Watkin Jones lifts development pipeline to 26 sites

Aaron Morby 2 weeks ago

Specialist student accommodation and private rental flat builder Watkin Jones has built up a development pipeline of 26 sites across the country.

New chief executive Richard Simpson sets out five-year growth plan

It remains confident about strong growth prospects ahead for both the purpose-built student accommodation and build to rent sector.

Announcing annual results, Richard Simpson, chief executive officer of Watkin Jones, said: “Despite the difficult macro environment caused by Brexit-related uncertainty, the group has delivered further profitable growth, in line with expectations.”

Revenue rose 3% to £375m in the year to September 2019, generating a £52m profit, up 4% on last year. Operating margins at the business touched 14%.

Simpson added: “Importantly, for the first time, build to rent development made a significant contribution to the group’s results and we expect it to become an increasingly important growth driver for the group in the coming years.  

“Watkin Jones is now firmly positioned as the UK’s leading developer and manager of residential for rent schemes.

“We are positive about the outlook for both the student accommodation and build to rent sectors.

“There is continued investor appetite in those markets and we are confident in our ability to expand our position as market leader.”

In the student accommodation sector, Watkin Jones secured development pipeline comprises 17 sites, representing 6,670 beds, with a development worth of £630m.

This year the firm will deliver seven schemes with 2,609 beds, with a further seven sites with 3,253 beds expected next year.

The firm is building its pipeline for delivery in 2022 and beyond, with four sites (1,223 beds) currently secured subject to planning.

It has recently added prime sites to the future pipeline in Birmingham, Exeter, Edinburgh and Bath.

Watkin Jones’ pipeline for the build to rent sector, including Reading and Wembley under construction, stands at nine sites.

This will deliver 2,300 apartments up to 2023 in the south east and midlands.  Sites are located in Brighton & Hove, Woking, Birmingham, Sutton and Leicester.

Simpson said six of the sites delivering nearly 2,000 flats now had planning.

He said: “We also have a substantial pipeline of target sites and are actively negotiating on a number of opportunities.”



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